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The 118th Congress may be a bit less Minnesota Nice

If demographic trends continue, Minnesota looks set to lose a congressional seat after the 2020 Census.

You might want to sit down for this one, Minnesota: your clout in the U.S. House of Representatives is almost certain to decline in the next decade of this century.

According to a report released Wednesday by the University of North Carolina Population Center, the 2020 Census — which determines each state’s representation levels in Congress — will almost certainly lead to a shift in the balance of power toward states in the South and West, and away from states in the Northeast and Midwest.

By their projection, the losers include Minnesota, which would send only seven representatives to Washington, as opposed to the eight it has sent there since 1963. It is one of eight states that UNC experts project will shed a congressional seat after the next census: Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and Rhode Island join as likely seat losers.

Fast-growing states in the South and West, like Texas, North Carolina, and Florida, are expected to add to their growing congressional delegations. Under these projections, Congress in 2022 could have twice as many North Carolinians as Minnesotans. Through the first decades of the 20th Century, the two states had equal congressional representation.

Flashback to 2010

The UNC report should revive Minnesotans’ memories from the days before the 2010 Census, when many believed the state would lose a congressional seat. In 2009 and 2010, some fretted openly about the prospect of losing a seat, with officials claiming it could come down to a margin of a few hundred people.

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Ultimately, Minnesota retained its eight seats even as states like Ohio and New York lost more than one. The North Star State may not be so lucky this time, however. Its 2014 population was estimated at 5,457,143 by the Census Bureau, and the Minnesota Population Center anticipates that the state’s 2020 population will be 5,687,161. A gain of 200,000 residents may simply not be enough to hang on to a seat in the 435-member House, where a state like Texas (current population: 26.9 million) is expected to have five million more residents in 2020 than it did in 2010.

How might Minnesota’s congressional map look when the demographic dust has settled in 2020? It’s early to tell, but it’s likely that substantial movement will happen in the vast, sparsely populated 7th and 8th Congressional Districts that take up much of Minnesota’s western and northern areas. In 2010, 7th District Rep. Collin Peterson was expected to get the short end of the stick, with many believing his district would merge with that of then-Rep. James Oberstar.

Losing a seat might particularly hurt for DFLers: in addition to potentially losing a blue seat, the states expected to win big in the next round of reapportionment are swing states (Virginia), safe red states (North Carolina), and Texas.