Projecting Reapportionment

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2021-06-17 00:00:04

When our country’s forefathers penned the U.S. Constitution, one of the first things they established was that our population would be enumerated every ten years.(1) Their motivation was to create a fair basis for allocating the seats of the House of Representatives to individual states. Today, this imperative continues to bestow upon the U.S. Census Bureau its foremost purpose.

The results of the 2000 Census led to the loss of one House seat for Indiana—a decrease from ten representatives to nine. Regardless of the fact that Indiana gained population during the 1990s, we lost that seat because many other states outpaced our growth, especially in the southern and western regions of the nation. This is part of a trend over recent decades where states in the Northeast and Midwest have lost seats, and states in the South and West have gained seats. There are no indications that this trend will change anytime soon. In light of this, how might Indiana’s representation change in the coming decades, and what shifts in representation can we expect between regions? This article explores these two questions.

The House of Representatives is fixed at 435 seats and has been since the reapportionment following the 1910 Census (with the exception of temporarily having 437 seats when Alaska and Hawaii joined the nation). Each state is guaranteed at least one seat. The remaining 385 seats are allocated via an approach called the method of equal proportions.(2) Congress adopted this method in 1941, and it has been applied to the results of every census since 1940.

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