Girl Gone Planning: 89 People

The US Census reporte preliminary numbers for their 2020 count on Monday and it reported that New York would be losing a House seat (and an Electoral College vote). This was widely expected for several years, or even a two seat loss, but it was close. Very close.


New York could have avoided the loss if just 89 more people were counted in the state.


89.


If you are on Facebook, I'd like you to go look up how many friends you have right now. According to Pew, the average Facebook user has 338 friends. It is likely that if everyone who is reading this blog had shared the Census form last summer, we may have been able to get 89 more people to fill out the form that hadn't.


New York could lose out on billions of dollars of funding over the next decade because of the loss of this seat. Many Federal aid programs and grants are based on population. But the most noticeable effect will be the loss of Congressional and Electoral clout, continuing a 60+ year trend of Northeast and Midwest states losing out to the growing South and West (despite California also losing a seat after 2020 for the first time in its history).


It could have been worse, and the Trump administration may have hampered the Census process with the addition of a citizenship question (later removed) across the country so much that the results will end up hurting the GOP, especially in states that have seen heavy immigration. As late as 2019, many experts thought that Texas was going to gain 3 or even 4 seats; they ended up gaining 2. Florida was expected to pick up 2 seats, they got 1. Rhode Island was projected to lose one of their two seats and they didn't. West Virginia, which gave Trump is biggest win in 2016 and second best in 2020, will end up losing a seat in the House. All in all, if the 2020 election were run again with the same margins under the new apportionment, Biden would lose 3 Electoral College votes, but would still beat Trump 303 to 235 (270 needed to win).


There may be a sign of a slow-down in New York's long-term population trends in the numbers however, or just a sign that the US as a whole has now entered a slower growth stage: After the 1950, 1960, and 1970 Censuses, the state lost 2 seats each time, 5 after 1980, 3 after 1990, and 2 each after 2000 and 2010. This time NYS *only* lost one, but was so close to not losing any at all.


The moral of this story is that we could have avoided that lost seat in Congress and a lost Electoral College vote if we had found just 89 more people, or 0.0004% of our estimated 20,201,249 people, to fill out their Census.