( – promoted by Bill Orr)
Confirming what was long expected, the US Census Bureau announced today that New Jersey will have one less seat — for a total of 12 — for the next Congressional elections in 2012.
It’s not that our population has declined between 2000 and 2010. In fact, New Jersey’s population rose 4.5%, from 8,414,350 to 8,791,894 over the previous decade.
What has happened is that other states have grown faster. Primarily in the south and in the west. The only places where population actually decreased was Michigan (-0.6%) and Puerto Rico (-2.2%)
— more on sources and data for the geeks below —
Since the number of Representatives is fixed at 435, the task for the Census Bureau is to determine how many seats each state gets, based on proportional representation.
With a total US populatuion of 308,745,538, this should be a e simple exercise — with 710,767 people per representative. But since each state is guaranteed at least one member of the house, the math gets a bit more tricky.
In fact, New Jersey is doing worse than that average, with 733,958 people per district. Of course, we’re not nearly as bad off as Montana (994,416 per representative), nearby Delaware (900,877) or South Dakota (819,761).
So much for One Man, One Vote…
In addition to New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, and Louisiana are each losing one seat.
New York and Ohio are losing two seats each.
On the plus side, Texas is the big winner, adding 4 seats to their delegation. Florida is adding two, with Washington, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina adding one each.
Now the hard task of redistricting falls to each of the states.
What should be readily clear to the progressive community is that the states that are adding seats tend to vote Republican, and the states that have lost are traditional blue states. The work in Ohio and Pennsylvania should be very interesting to watch.
The last time that NJ had only 12 seats was before the 1930 Census increased the number to 14. We held 15 seats as recently as 1980.
Want to see what those districts looked like? I’m working on tracking down an old map from 1930.
But if you’d like something to think about, consider this bit of trivia: New Jersey elected it’s members of Congress AT LARGE until 1843. With the exception of the years 1799-1801 and 1813-1815 (when they were elected by district), New Jersey sent its 4, then 5, and ultimately 6 representatives from across the state, elected at large.