How the Census Bureau arrived at apportionment counts

Ballotpedia's Daily Brew

Apportionment counts: Results and background

On Monday—April 26—the U.S. Census Bureau released apportionment counts based on the 2020 census. Six states—Texas, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon—gained seats in the U.S. House. Texas gained two, and the rest gained one. Seven states—California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia—each lost a seat.

  • Three of the six states gaining seats—Texas, Florida, and Montana—are Republican trifectas. That means Republicans control the governorship and majorities in both state legislative chambers in each. Two states, Colorado and Oregon, are Democratic trifectas. North Carolina has divided government. (Note: The North Carolina General Assembly is responsible for redistricting, and the governor cannot veto district maps.)
  • Three of the seven states that lost a congressional seat—California, Illinois, and New York—are Democratic trifectas. Two states, Ohio and West Virginia, are Republican trifectas. Two, Michigan and Pennsylvania, are divided governments.

According to the 2020 census, the resident population of the United States as of April 1, 2020, was 331,449,281. This represents a 7.4% increase over the population according to the 2010 census. Texas, the only state to gain more than one congressional seat, added nearly 4 million residents between 2010 and 2020, reaching 29,145,505. 

How does the Bureau arrive at these numbers? Here’s some background on the process.

Every 10 years, the Census Bureau conducts the census, aimed at providing a complete count of the U.S. population. After the first census (1790), the 105 members of the U.S. House represented about 34,000 residents each. Now, the 435 members of the House will represent an average of 761,169 residents each.

The census is a complex undertaking. First, the Census Bureau collects data. This involves: 

  • making a list of every residence (including houses, apartments, dorms, etc.) in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories; 
  • asking members of each household in the country to complete the census survey; and,
  • following up with those households that did not submit surveys. 

The Census Bureau then must process the data. This involves:

  • making a final list of residential addresses; 
  • cross-checking for duplicate responses; and
  • processing write-in responses. 

The Census Bureau also uses imputation. The Bureau’s website says, “In rare instances, using a statistical method called imputation to account for missing data. This technique enables us to fill in missing information using what we already know about an address and its nearest, similar neighbor.”

Apportionment counts were originally due on Dec. 31, 2020, but the Bureau postponed the deadline to April 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Next up: The Census Bureau expects to deliver raw redistricting data to states by Aug. 16. The Bureau will deliver full data sets, rendered in a way that’s easier for states to use, by Sept. 30. The original deadline was April 1.

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Newsom recall meets signature requirement, leaving one more step before we know if state will hold recall

We’ve got an update on the recall campaign against California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). The California Secretary of State announced that 1,626,042 signatures were valid—more than the 1,495,709 valid signatures required to trigger a recall election. Recall organizers had turned in more than 2.1 million signatures by the March 17 deadline. 

There’s one more step before the recall is officially on. Until June 8, voters can request their signatures be removed from the petition. Requests must be sent in writing to a county election official. If enough valid signatures remain after the June 8 deadline, the recall campaign will enter a budgeting and scheduling phase.

As a reminder: A recall election would present voters with two questions. The first would ask whether Newsom should be recalled, and a majority of voters would need to approve this for him to be recalled. The second would ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. The candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election, no majority required. 

Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a sitting California governor. Six of those—including the present one—have targeted Newsom. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003, when voters recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis (D). That year, voters elected Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) out of 135 candidates as Davis’ replacement.

Several individuals have already announced their campaign if the recall goes to the ballot, including former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), and Caitlyn Jenner (R).

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Join our State Supreme Court Partisanship briefing May 12

One of the most common questions Ballotpedia staff hear is, “How do I learn more about judges in my state?” Our team put together a report that helps answer that question by digging into partisanship info for each state’s highest court. 

Our analysis of 2020 state supreme court rulings suggests that partisan lines are not as rigid across all of our political institutions as we may perceive them to be. On May 12, I’ll join Sam Postell, one of the report’s main authors here at Ballotpedia, to discuss the major findings—including that justices of the same party disagree with one another just like justices of different parties do.

The briefing is at 11 a.m. Central Time on Wednesday, May 12. You can attend live by registering at the link below. And if you can’t make it at that time, you can catch the recording on our Facebook or YouTube pages. I hope you’ll join us!

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About the author

Dave Beaudoin

Dave Beaudoin is a project director at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.