331.4 million people live in The United States of America. 331.4 million people experience the consequences and rewards of living in a state of “freedom” and “possibilities.” 331.4 million people are seeking the “American dream.” How do these 331.4 million people alter the truths and actualities of America? How does the number 331.4 million affect political power in America?
America centers around the writings of the founding fathers in the constitution, which states that “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.” While we do not follow the racist regulations regarding Indegiounous peoples and Black Americans, we still use the constitution-regulated census for an abundance of other government policies and standings.
The census provides the people and government of the States with essential data used to determine the political power given to each state. We use the data given to us by the census to sort and distribute congressional seats to different states. It is important to maintain the standings that congressional seats of a state are given based on population. The census allows us to upkeep the standings of congress.
In the 2020 census, we witnessed a 7.35% increase in population size in all of America and a 7.1% increase in each district. This increase is the slowest population growth seen in American history since the decade of the Great Depression. Each representative in the House Of Representatives will now be representing 50,402 more persons. Delaware contains the largest average district size at 990,837 people while Montana will hold the smallest average district size at 542,704 people.
The shift in populations throughout districts will cause seven House seats to shift in 13 different states. Texas will be gaining two seats, and Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Caroline, and Oregon will gain one seat, while California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia will lose a seat.
The states losing a seat in the House are states that are typically Democratic, while those gaining seats are typically Republican. This creates a big shift in political seating in the House, creating more possibilities for elections to nominate Republican representatives. With the House currently leaning Democrat, the change in seating can allow for a big change to occur within political ranking in the House, making a huge and impactful change to our current government.
The change in district population sizes will cause a new political issue in that new district lines will need to be drawn, creating the important question of if Republicans will gerrymander these new state lines to make Democratic voters close to worthless. While the concept of gerrymandering is ethically wrong, it is possible. With Republicans controlling the majority of state legislatures, they carry the power in most states to finalize state lines. This draws up controversy between the two parties. Democratic leaders and followers have been seen criticizing new Republican voting laws for months now; this potential problem of gerrymandering only stirs up that controversy and allows for more criticism between the states. Kelly Ward Burton, the president of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee says that "the presumption that Republicans should get all of those new seats simply because they control the process is a presumption of gerrymandering, and that is illegal."
The 2020 US census has shown important data that will be used in the future going forward. However, the important data collected will end up causing more and more political polarization, which President Biden is not fond of. The potential polarization that will occur might be a drowning point in American politics, and the census might be what ends up tipping it over.
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