Report: Fla. Adds 2 Seats, N.Y. Loses

By Richard E. Cohen
|  Monday, Sep 27, 2010  |  Updated 10:46 AM EDT
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Report: Fla. Adds 2 Seats, N.Y. Loses

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KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 04: A roll of "I Voted" stickers sit at the Children's Memorial Lutheran Church polling location November 4, 2008 in Clay County, Kansas City, Missouri. After nearly two years of presidential campaigning, U.S. citizens go to the polls today to vote in the election between Democratic presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Republican nominee U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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A new estimate of House reapportionment gains and losses resulting from this year’s Census reveals a larger-than-expected impact on Florida and New York. According to Washington-based Election Data Services, which reviewed new Census data from a private-sector demographic firm, Florida would gain two House seats and New York would lose two seats.

They would join two other states that already were projected to have multiple-seat changes. Based on the tentative Census data, Texas is expected to gain four House seats and Ohio likely will lose two seats.

According to the EDS estimate, six other states each would gain one seat: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington. Eight states would each lose one seat: Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

In addition to the Florida and New York changes, the other major switch in the projected reapportionment is that Missouri will lose a House seat instead of Minnesota, according to EDS President Kimball Brace. He released the study for a redistricting seminar of the National Conference of State Legislature in Providence, Rhode Island, this weekend.

Brace said that he had an “inkling” of the Missouri/Minnesota switch, but added, “We were most surprised at the shift of an additional district out of New York and down to Florida, even though that follows the population movement in this country since World War II.”

Although these estimates likely will be close to the official outcome, there are no guarantees until the Census Bureau’s scheduled announcement in late December of the final Census population totals for the 50 states. With those numbers, a long-standing statutory formula will quickly apportion the 435 House seats. That, in turn, will lead to the state-by-state redistricting of House seats, which will revise the congressional maps for the 2012 election.

Assessing the partisan impact remains speculative, not least because November results will determine who controls the state legislature and governor’s office in many states—partisan changes would affect who controls the map-drawing in many states. The outcome of congressional elections in November likely will create additional variables, including partisan control of seats and the relative influence of House members within a state delegation.

Still, some early projections can be made based on current population data, especially for the four states projected to have multiple-seat changes.

In Texas, Republicans are expected to retain control of the legislature and Republican Gov. Rick Perry has a small lead over Democratic challenger Bill White. Even with complete GOP control of redistricting, however, the surge in Hispanic population likely will result in a Democratic gain of one or two of the expected four new seats—including one each in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and in the Houston metropolitan area. 

Republicans expect to add a seat in the Austin-San Antonio region and in other rapidly-growing suburban areas. There could be significant redistricting tweaks in heavily Hispanic border districts, which have had large population gains, and in sprawling rural areas where population has been relatively stagnant.

 

In Florida, Republicans are virtually certain to keep control of the legislature. But Democrat Alex Sink has a narrow lead in polls for the governor’s office that Charlie Crist is vacating. If Sink wins, that would boost Democrats’ redistricting leverage. Earlier Census data have shown that the areas with the largest population increases are in the center of the state—to the north, west and south of Orlando.

The outcome of stiff November challenges to first-term Democratic Reps. Alan Grayson and Suzanne Kosmas could affect those changes since each represents an Orlando-area district. The other districts surrounding Orlando are currently held by Republicans. Districts now held by African-American Democrats and Cuban-American Republicans have had smaller net population changes.

Prospects in the two states that might each lose two House seats are more speculative.

In New York, where Democrat Andrew Cuomo is the front-runner for governor, Republicans have a chance to regain control of the state Senate; Democrats currently have a one-seat edge in that chamber. While Democrats now have 27-to-2 control of the congressional delegation, Republicans are waging serious challenges for several of those seats--if they win in November, some GOP first-termers could find that their seats are early targets of redistricters.

Another factor that will affect New York redistricting if the state loses two House seats is that one of them likely would be carved from the New York City metropolitan area, and the other would come from Upstate. According to early estimates, areas that have had net population losses include Nassau County on Long Island, and Upstate around Rochester and Buffalo.

In Ohio, where GOP challenger John Kasich leads Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland in the contest for governor, Republicans have a good shot to take over the legislature. With GOP control of redistricting, Democrats would face a risk of major losses in the congressional delegation, which they now control 10-to-8. But several House Democrats could be defeated in November, which would affect the redistricting calculus. Population losses have been most striking in Democratic-dominated northeast Ohio.

In the six states expected to gain one seat each, all but Washington have strong Republican influence. That suggests—but does not guarantee—GOP pick-ups. In the eight states that are expected to lose a seat, Democrats appear to be at greater risk. In Massachusetts, for example, each of the 10 seats is now held by a Democrat; the state is certain to lose one Democratic congressman. But in Louisiana, Republicans could be at risk in the likely event that they end up with all of the state’s House seats after Election Day except for the New Orleans-based district.

Aside from these 18 states that could be gaining or losing House seats, other states could see their own sharp-elbowed redistricting battles.

In California, with its 53 seats, Hispanics represent 36 percent of the state’s population and hope to increase their current six seats. Depending on how the new maps are drawn, that could place at risk some of the three African-American House Democrats in Los Angeles, and several Anglo Democrats in southern California and the Central Valley. In the past, the influence of the state’s Hispanics has been limited because large numbers of their population are not citizens or registered voters.

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