- Population estimates released by the United States Census Bureau on Tuesday show that the US is experiencing record slow population growth in 2019, which will have longlasting political implications in key states.
- The population estimates come shortly before the 2020 census, which will determine how many districts each state will be allocated to represent it in the US House of Representatives.
- Southern and Sun Belt states including Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and Texas are experiencing the fastest population growth in the country, are projected to gain congressional seats in the House.
- Meanwhile, the Rust Belt states of West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota are projected to lose one congressional seat each.
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Population estimates released by the United States Census Bureau on Tuesday show that the US is experiencing record slow population growth in 2019, which will have longlasting political implications in key states.
Due to a combination of factors including an aging population, falling birth rates, and declining immigration, US population growth has slowed to just 0.84%, the lowest rate since 1918, the end of World War I.
The Census Bureau’s 2019 estimates come just a few months before the 2020 census, the results of which will determine the balance of power for the next decade, including how many districts each state will be allocated to represent its people in the House of Representatives.
According to an analysis by Brookings Institute demographer William Frey, states in the American South and Sun Belt including Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and Texas are experiencing the fastest population growth in the country.
Meanwhile, rural parts of the Upper Midwest, which are notably losing population and have been trending more towards the Republican Party over time, are slated to lose seats.
As the Wall Street Journal noted on Tuesday, “because the 2019 estimates come less than a year before the next decennial census, they closely approximate which states will gain and lose as a result of the 2020 count that gets fully under way in the spring.”
The upcoming redistricting will stir up a political frenzy in state capitols across the country, requiring members of Congress to run in entirely new districts or pitting incumbent members of the House to run against each other.
An analysis of the census data from the firm Election Data Services found that using the 2019 estimates released this week, Texas and Florida are projected to gain two seats each, North Carolina, Colorado, and Arizona are set to gain one each, and Montana’s current at-large district could be broken up into two districts.
Meanwhile, the Rust Belt states of West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota — two of which are key swing states essential to Trump’s 2016 electoral college victory — are projected to lose one congressional seat each due to declining population.
Solidly Democratic states including California and New York are also on track to lose one seat each, and Rhode Island is set to become an at-large district, possibly requiring its two current House Reps. David Cicilline and Jim Langevin to run against each other.
—Ally Mutnick (@allymutnick) December 31, 2019
In addition to racially diversifying electorates, states like Arizona, Texas, and North Carolina are also attracting greater numbers of white, college-educated professionals, who are fleeing the Republican Party in droves and were a key force behind the Democrats flipping control of the House in 2018.
Arizona, home to conservative icons including Barry Goldwater and John McCain, was a Republican stronghold for decades but is now slated to be a battleground in 2020. In 2018, Democratic Sen. Krysten Sinema bested a Republican opponent, Martha McSally, with Democrats also flipping McSally’s former House district.
And as Insider reported in August, Trump not only carried Texas by a smaller margin than Mitt Romney in 2012, but either lost or barely held on to congressional districts located in the suburbs of cities like Austin, Dallas, and Houston that previous Republican nominees easily carried by double-digits, two of which have now flipped to Democrats.
—Sean T at RCP (@SeanTrende) December 31, 2019
The recent demographic shifts are making states like Arizona and North Carolina competitive for Democrats for the first time in recent history, but the Rust Belt states losing population and congressional districts will continue to be key players in the electoral college.
Trump’s sustained, impenetrable lock on white, non-college educated voters could help him maintain and expand upon his lead in the Upper Midwest battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania which he carried by narrow margins in 2016.