Capitol Alert

California could gain a congressional seat after next census

The map shows potential reapportionment change projections for 2020.
The map shows potential reapportionment change projections for 2020. Election Data Services

California, which failed to gain an additional congressional seat after the 2010 census for the first time in the state’s history, is likely to see a one-seat gain following the 2020 census, a new national analysis says.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a project of University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato, made the projection after analyzing mid-decade population data for all 50 states.

California picked up one seat after the 2000 census, but slow population growth during the next decade – less than 1 percent a year – blocked expansion after the 2010 census, leaving the state’s congressional delegation at 53 seats.

California’s sub-1 percent annual population growth continues during this decade, but the Sabato calculations indicate that very slow growth and/or population losses in some northeastern and upper midwestern states will result in a shift of seats to Sun Belt states.

Sabato projets that 14 to 17 states will see gains or losses in congressional seats after the 2020 census. “The biggest winner will probably be Texas,” the Sabato report says, “with projections showing it is likely to gain three seats after it gained four following the 2010 census.”

The shift of seats southward and westward has been underway for decades; New York, which had 45 seats in the 1940s, is down to 27 and Sabato sees it losing another after the 2020 census.

The shift now only changes the balance of power in Congress – it’s a big reason why Republicans now control the House – but presidential politics as well, since every state’s electoral votes are its House seats plus two Senate seats.

The projected post-2020 changes would probably enhance Republican presidential prospects and thus make California’s solidly blue political profile even more important to Democrats.

Call The Bee’s Dan Walters, (916) 321-1195. Back columns, Follow him on Twitter