The dueling over the constitutionally mandated “enumeration” of the nation’s population known as the U.S. Census has already begun. Much of it has centered on U.S. Consumer Secretary Wilbur Ross’s efforts to have the census, for the first time since 1950, ask people being counted if they are U.S. citizens. Critics of the move say this could cause immigrants worried about their legal status to forgo filling out the census form and thus go uncounted.
This is a big deal to many people for a couple of reasons. One is, surprise, money. A state’s population and the demographics of that population help determine how much money a state gets from the federal government. The other big reason is political power. A state’s population determines how many of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives a state has.
At present, Florida is tied for third place with New York, at 27 House members. Texas is second, with 36, and California, at 53 seats, is number one.
According to current projections, however, the 2020 is likely to break the Florida-New York tie. Florida is projected to pick up two seats, up to 29, and New York drop two and fall to 25. Texas is being projected to gain three seats, while California might stay at 53 or lose a seat.
The Election Data Service, a consulting firm on matters such as redistricting, election administration and census analysis, notes that in 2017 Florida was being projected as being within 366,735 people of getting a third seat in the House, up to 30. By 2018, that had shrunk to only 172,169 needed to add three seats.
So, don’t be surprised when the brass knuckles get pulled out as the census draws closer.