Census results: Missouri will lose clout on Capitol Hill

Nathan Zoschke

The first set of Census 2010 data was released Dec. 21. According to the report, the U.S. resident population was 308,745,538 as of April 1, 2010, a 9.7 percent increase from the 2000 Census.

Missouri, however, saw its population increase at a slower pace than the national average, a trend that has continued for several decades.

The Census, which is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, counts the number of persons living in the 50 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and District of Columbia once every 10 years.

State population counts are used to determine how the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives will be apportioned, or distributed, among the states in the next election.

Missouri, along with several other states, will lose representation in Congress as a result of reapportionment.

The Census Bureau reports Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania will each lose one House seat. New York and Ohio will lose two seats each.

Losing seats, however, does not equate with losing residents.

Of the states losing House seats, only Michigan experienced population decline.

Missouri, the fastest-growing state to lose a House seat in 2012, grew seven percent from the 2000 Census.

But its population was 36,723 less than the number needed to retain its nine Congressional seats, according to Esri, a company that tracks demographic and geographical information.

According to the data, 36,723 people is about half of one percent of Missouri’s population of 5,988,927.

Election Data Services reported if Missouri’s population been slightly larger, Minnesota would have lost a House seat instead.

Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington will each gain one seat. Florida will gain two, and Texas will gain four.

The apportionment changes have regional as well as political implications.

No Northeastern or Midwestern state has gained a House seat since 1960, and both regions have seen their influence in the House diminish.

In 1960, Missouri had 4.3 million residents and 11 representatives. On April 3, 2010, Missouri was barely shy of six million residents.

However, its population growth over the past 50 years has lagged behind faster-growing Southern and Western states.

In 2012, Missouri will have eight representatives.

Neighboring Kansas, which grew 6.1 percent between 2000 and 2010, has also lost representation on Capitol Hill, although it will hold on to its four Congressional seats for the time being.

Congressional District boundaries in the 43 states having more than one representative will also be redrawn to account for population change within state boundaries.

While districts within each state must have nearly the same population, drawing the new districts is often a contentious process.

New districts are drawn by state legislatures, which often give one party the upper hand in determining who will go to Washington.

Because of the Republican surge in the 2010 election, the Republican Party will appear an edge in redistricting.

In many states, redistricting is fought with legal challenges.

A lawsuit challenging Arizona’s redistricting commission has already been filed.

In Missouri, a partisan fight over which party will lose a Congressional seat could be on the horizon.

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