Every 10 years, the United States conducts its census to determine population and demographic changes across the country, using those numbers to apportion representation for each state's congressional districts in the House of Representatives.
The state population totals of the 2020 census were released earlier this week, and saw losses in congressional seats for New York, California, Michigan, and other states. Meanwhile, states like Texas and Florida gained seats. How this will reflect in the changing of districts will be left to each state's legislature. Many of the states that saw boosts in population have legislatures controlled by Republicans.
The 2020 census was a hot button issue while being conducted under former President Donald Trump, whose insistence on a citizenship question was widely criticized and ultimately left off the census after the Supreme Court refused to take up the case.
While Republicans gained a small boost over Democrats from the results of the population totals, the party largely underperformed especially in Texas, which gained two seats instead of the three many predicted, with similar developments in Florida and Arizona. All three states have some of the highest Hispanic and Latino populations in the country.
Figures on both sides of the aisle wonder whether Hispanic and Latino Americans were left undercounted as a result of the hubbub surrounding the citizenship question.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder, who now oversees the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, told the New York Times:
"I just wonder if it had the impact of suppressing the count, especially in the Hispanic community. I'm not sure there's any way to ever prove that or to determine whether or not that's true, but I think that's always something that we're going to be wondering about."
Michael Li, of the Brennan Center's redistricting and voting counsel, speculated the same in a recent tweet specifically regarding Texas.
We’ll have to wait for more granular data, but it certainly looks like the Texas Legislature’s decision not to budg… https://t.co/qsJDZIcGBG— Michael Li 李之樸 (@Michael Li 李之樸) 1619467613.0
Many are laying Republican underperformance at Trump's feet.
This is a direct result of the way Trump mishandled the entire census effort during the #COVID19 pandemic. Now all… https://t.co/ALpEvWdmFg— Sen. Martín Quezada (@Sen. Martín Quezada) 1619467778.0
Florida was supposed to pick up 2 seats, Texas was supposed to get 3, Arizona would get 1. Instead, all these state… https://t.co/s5QjLcjU0m— W. Brian Tucker (@W. Brian Tucker) 1619481955.0
So, we're just going to ignore problems w/ the 2020 Census & their partisan consequences for apportionment? 1) Trum… https://t.co/TeZQGvP7Mo— Kim Weeden (@Kim Weeden) 1619553472.0
The campaign for a citizenship question hurt Democratic states as well, especially in New York, which was 89 people shy of keeping all of its House seats.
Important to frame this in context of Trump admin weaponizing citizenship/legal status during early Census fights.… https://t.co/QJYx4vFPCQ— YK (@YK) 1619491018.0
NY losing only 1 congressional seat, while it stings, beats the projection that we could’ve lost 2 the census was… https://t.co/AQHqKSzojQ— Julie Ae Kim 김주애 (@Julie Ae Kim 김주애) 1619487230.0
Some say that Trump's antics rendered the census altogether unreliable.
Why would anyone trust a census done by the Trump administration?— Wallis Weaver (@Wallis Weaver) 1619530004.0
What are the odds that the census was the one government operation that operated competently and apolitically under Trump?— Schooley (@Schooley) 1619506486.0
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state is looking into legal options to contest its narrow loss of a congressional district.