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Posted at 11:45 AM ET, 12/21/2010

Census 2010 shows red states gaining congressional seats

By Aaron Blake

The congressional map continued to shift toward red states Tuesday, as the U.S. Census Bureau released new apportionment data.

The census numbers reshuffled the number of seats in Congress for 18 states, based on population gains and losses over the past decade. Most states gaining seats went for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 presidential election, while almost all states that lost seats were won by President Obama -- many of them in the Rust Belt.

The westward movement of the U.S. population means six districts in states that went for Obama will shift to states that went for McCain -- a small but significant shift that could help a GOP presidential candidate in 2012, provided they can hold those states for the party.

Most of the other new seats will be in swing states that went for Obama, which could also be won by Republicans in 2012.

Texas, as expected, gained the most seats, moving from 32 to 36 seats thanks to big gains in population -- primarily in the Hispanic community.

Florida was the only other state to gain multiple seats, adding two and bringing it to 27 seats.

Six other states gained a single seat: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.

The biggest losers were New York and Ohio, which each lost two seats. Eight other states lost a single seat: Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Five of the eight states that are gaining seats were won by McCain in the 2008 presidential race. Eight of the 10 that are losing seats went to Obama.

Minnesota just made the cut for the last seat (No. 435), and will keep all eight of its districts, while North Carolina fell about 15,000 people short of gaining a 14th seat.

Republicans, whose 2010 gains make them dominant in the upcoming round of drawing new district lines, will control the redistricting process in eight of the states mentioned above, while Democrats control it in just two. That's important, because states that lose or gain seats generally see the biggest changes.

But just because a district is moving into a red state doesn't mean it will be Republican -- or that a district lost by a blue state will come at the expense of Democrats.

Many states where the GOP will draw the lines already feature heavily GOP congressional delegations so Republicans will be hard pressed to add friendly districts -- or may just want to focus on shoring up the members that they currently have.

The census announcement this morning kicks off the decennial line-drawing process. Stay tuned for the best and most in-depth coverage of the remapping of the country right here on the Fix. And be sure to look at how we expect the map to be drawn in four key states -- Georgia, Illinois, Indiana and Texas -- in our "Mapping the Future" series.

By Aaron Blake  | December 21, 2010; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  Mapping the Future, Redistricting  
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