Early Census Estimates Hint Oklahoma Will Retain Congressional Numbers

Early population estimates from the Bureau of the Census indicate the state of Oklahoma will hold its own in the 2011 reapportionment of the U.S. House of Representatives.

A Washington Post news analysis of the data hints dramatic gains in Republican strength are possible early in the next decade.
A story in The Washington Post (Chris Cillizza, “States in Play: An early look at 2009 redistricting,” Dec. 29, 2009, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/28/AR2009122802124.html) reports the Bureau “gave political junkies a gift last week” with release of the population estimates.
Oklahoma has grown modestly in population, from an April 1, 2000 “base” of 3,450,638 to an estimated population of 3,687,050 as of July 1, 2009. This will put the state in the middle of the 50 states, neither gaining nor losing strength in Congress.

According to the report, eight states stand to gain enough population to merit additional seats in the U.S. House: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington. As Cillizza reports, “Republicans control the governorship and both houses of the state legislature in five. Control in Nevada is split, while Arizona and Washington use independent commissions to draw their lines, taking their legislatures and governors out of play.”
On the other hand, ten states will apparently lose seats in Congress as the result of the Census data.

The Post writer sketched the implications this way: “In five of the 10 states — Ohio, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania — the parties split control of the governorships and legislatures, while in Illinois, Massachusetts and New York, Democrats control the state government. Iowa and New Jersey use independent redistricting commissions.”

In Cillizza’s analysis, states presently leaning Republican or already under Republican control are likely to gain seats. Further, Republican prospects for increased strength are also good to excellence in several of the “Rust Belt” states likely to lose seats. Cillizza’s story points to Ohio as a state losing seats in Congress where Republican gains are likely.

Under the U.S. Constitution, a Census of the population is taken every 10 years. Representation in the U.S. House of Representatives is then apportioned based on population. Oklahoma dropped from six to five members in the House after the 2000 Census. Besides the Congress, Census results drive reapportionment processes in state legislatures, municipal bodies such as city councils, school districts and other local or municipal legislative bodies.
The new Census estimates can be viewed online at: http://www.census.gov/popest/states/NST-ann-est.html.
Note: Pat McGuigan is capitol editor for Tulsa Today, and editor of CapitolBeatOK, where this article first appeared this week.