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Posted at 4:48 PM ET, 12/21/2010

Reapportionment winners and losers

By Aaron Blake

Eighteen states traded 12 congressional seats on Tuesday, when the U.S. Census Bureau released its new reapportionment numbers for the 2012 election cycle.

We detailed the changes earlier today, so we won't rehash it all here. But suffice it to say: The announcement was largely devoid of surprises.

What it was not devoid of, however, was winners and losers. After the jump, The Fix simplifies it all for you, picking five winners and five losers from the big announcement.


* The West: Eight of 12 new congressional seats will be west of the Mississippi River, while the other four will be in the southeast. This is also the first time that the population in the West will exceed the population in the Midwest. That means something, as western delegations begin asserting their power in Congress.

* Kimball Brace: Projecting gains and losses is a difficult business, but Brace picked all 18 states and correctly projected the number of seats each state would gain or lose. Brace also rightly suggested that North Carolina would be close to grabbing the last seat because of overseas military personnel, which are hard to factor into projections. The Tar Heel State wound up being No. 436 on the list -- just one state away from making the cut.

* Minnesota: The Land of 10,000 Lakes (to which this member of The Fix team happens to be partial) got the last seat available, No. 435, by a margin of less than 10,000 people. Wholesale changes to the state's map could have led to big changes for Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) and Rep.-elect Chip Cravaack (R), but their districts are now safe -- at least from redistricting -- for another 10 years.

* Political analysts: Today's announcement gives us lots of numbers to crunch, and there's nothing we like better than a bunch of brand spanking new data to parse. It's Christmas come early. But it is also prone to being over-analyzed. After all, when it comes down to it, only six electoral votes are traveling from blue states to red states. That means Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) would have gained just six out of 538 electoral votes in 2008 and lost by 180 votes rather than 192. When you look at the 2000 election, which occurred before the last round of reapportionment, Brace said President Bush would have won 14 more electoral votes under the new map, which would have only expanded his five-vote victory. These changes should not be over-estimated.

* Texas Republicans: The state GOP, which controls the redistricting process, was confronting the possibility of having to draw two of three new districts as Democratic-leaning, Hispanic-majority districts. Adding a fourth seat means the GOP can try to draw two new GOP districts on top of the two Democratic districts. It could also give them more flexibility with the rest of the map.


* The Rust Belt: Five states have lost at least five congressional seats over the last 40 years, and all of them come from the Rust Belt. The usual suspects lost seats again this year -- New York, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- and joining them were other nearby states, including Iowa, Missouri and New Jersey.

* Democrats: Of the six questions The Fix listed heading into the big announcement, Democrats came out on the short end of five of them. Democrats are trying to put a good face on it, expressing optimism at the results today. But the fact remains that at least seven of the 12 new congressional seats are likely to be drawn for Republicans (two seats in Texas, at least one in Florida and one each in Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina and Utah), while most of the seats that are disappearing are likely to come at the expense of Democrats. Republicans control the redistricting process in eight of 18 states that are gaining or losing seats, while Democrats control it in just two.

* North Carolina: The state just barely won a new seat in 2000, when it edged out Utah for seat No. 435. And, just like in 2000, it looked like it might leapfrog a few states and grab a new seat when overseas military personnel were added to the totals. It didn't quite work out; they came up about 15,000 people short.

* New York City: The fact that the Empire State loses two districts means one is likely to come out of New York City. The only Republican in the area -- Rep.-elect Mike Grimm (R) -- is safe on Staten Island, so two Democrats are going to have to be drawn into the same district. That's not good news for Reps. Gary Ackerman (D), Carolyn Maloney (D) or Joseph Crowley (D). Democrats will have to hope for someone to retire.

* Michigan: The Wolverine State was the only state in the country to actually lose population over the last 10 years. Not even post-Katrina Louisiana lost people. Michigan loses just one seat, but current trends are not good for the future of the state's congressional delegation. It has lost at least one district each of the last four censuses, dropping from 19 districts to 14 in just 30 years.

By Aaron Blake  | December 21, 2010; 4:48 PM ET
Categories:  Redistricting  
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