A new analysis of Census Bureau data shows that Texas and Florida may have won the reapportionment sweepstakes, mainly at the expense of New York and Ohio. In the next Congressional elections, Texas will have four more Congressional seats and Florida will add two more, strengthening their representation in the House. New York and Ohio will both lose two, in changes that will have repercussions in the 2012 presidential election:
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.
The Census Bureau will have to make the final determination, which is scheduled for release in December. If this holds up, though, the power shift is a big problem for Barack Obama. States get Electoral College votes based on representation in the House (each state gets two for their Senatorial delegation), and moves away from New York to Florida will be a big problem if Obama can’t duplicate his success in the Sunshine State in 2012. With Florida looking as though it will back Marco Rubio and Rick Scott in statewide elections this year, it seems likely to return to its Republican trend in the next presidential election cycle.
Texas, though, will be the bigger problem, mainly because it’s already solidly Republican. The Republican legislature will use those four new seats to create more easily defensible GOP seats in the House, but also — again — gains those four seats at the expense of blue states. Five of the eight states losing one seat traditionally vote Democratic in presidential elections, and two of the others (Missouri and Iowa) are swing states. Only Louisiana is usually a safe Republican bet in national elections. Ohio loses two seats and they’re traditionally Republican, but went to Obama in 2008. Meanwhile, among the states that gain one seat, only one of them traditionally votes Democratic (Washington), and only Nevada could reasonably be considered a swing state.
These changes come at a bad time for Democrats as well with the expected Republican tidal wave in state legislative elections this year. More states will be in Republican control, especially Ohio, where the Democrats can expect to take the brunt of losing the two Congressional seats. The same may be true even in New York, where the GOP has suddenly become competitive again. The switch in seats will produce more Republicans in the House even apart from the temper of the next election.
In 2012, Obama faced a tough battle to win re-election, but these changes make it even tougher.
Update: I wrote “seats” where I meant “states”; I’ve fixed it now. I should also point out that a preliminary analysis showed Minnesota and not Missouri losing a seat, which would mean an even worse outcome for Democrats in presidential elections, since Minnesota hasn’t voted for a Republican since Nixon.