Counting All Americans

The Once A Decade Census has Ramifications, Large and Small



The Census, every 10 years, seeks to count every resident of the US.

The 2020 Census began to release numbers last week, and their implications are major for political power and government spending over the next decade. The Census is the most comprehensive register of residents across the United States, performed once every ten years after the turn of the decade. It is important in determining the amount of House seats and Electoral votes each state receives as well as the allocation of federal spending.
The Census is designed as a non-partisan tabulation of statistics, but there are concerns that an action, taken by the Trump administration in late 2020, may have had political undertones. In September 2020, Trump’s commerce department ordered that the Census be cut short from its initial deadline (October 31) to a month earlier (September 30), claiming that the earlier deadline was key for getting preliminary statistics to President Trump. Opposition arose, and a lawsuit was filed against Wilbur L. Ross Jr., the commerce secretary shortly afterward. Experts on the census raised concerns that an early halt to the count would result in undercounts of the people, which the census already had the most difficult filing: racial minorities, the impoverished, and young citizens. This meant that the Census would likely provide inaccurate tabulations in those sectors, but the lawsuit was rejected by the Supreme Court and the Census permitted it to terminate on September 30.
Nonetheless, the first results of the census were released on Monday, April 26, and they revealed the implications for states’ House spots and Electoral College votes. Six states added congressional seats, with Texas adding not one but two of them. Battleground state Florida was also among the states adding a congressional seat, bringing its Electoral College votes to 30. Other states to add a seat include Oregon, Colorado, and North Carolina. For the first time in 20 years, Montana gained a seat as well.
Seven states lost a congressional seat based on the census. California was deprived of its first congressional seat for the first time in its statehood due to stagnation of growth. It brings the Golden State from 53 to 52 House members. New York also lost a House seat by only 89 people, reducing its congressional delegation from 27 to 26. Pennsylvania, another state that has become a battleground during elections, lost a congressional seat, as well as losing an Electoral College vote. Illinois and Ohio continued streaks of House representation loss, losing a seat each, and West Virginia and Michigan were also included in losing one congressional seat each.
With the Census also comes the redistricting process, and Republicans are predicted by many to benefit most by this process. Many state legislatures across the country are controlled by Republican majorities and those states that do have Democratic-led state legislatures use independent or bipartisan redistricting committees much of the time. According to the Washington Post, while it is possible that Republicans make gains in Congress from gerrymandering, the biggest advantage through gerrymandering could be gained at the state level, where state legislatures could gain a Republican supermajority, meaning that they could override a Democratic governor’s veto.