The purest form of high stakes American political warfare—which comes just once every ten years—is nearly upon us. The redrawing of congressional and state legislative districts always has the look and feel of a bar room brawl and the various 2011 political mapping procedures promise to be just as contentious.The first phase of the redistricting process, reapportionment—where the number of districts awarded to each state is decided based on a complicated population formula—will become official once the 2010 census is completed. Between now and then, a lot of research will try to predict which states will gain and lose congressional districts.Late last year, the Virginia-based Election Data Services (EDS) firm revealed their apportionment predictions. According to an unofficial short-term calculation, only Texas, adding four seats, and Arizona, adding two, will gain more than one seat. Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina and Utah will all increase the size of their federal delegations by one district.Ohio, likely to relinquish two seats, appears to be the only state that will lose more than one. Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania will all drop one. The EDS apportionment scenario is largely shaped by population trends that have become evident over the past two years. Needing the 2009 numbers to complete the decade, changes in the projected apportionment formula can still happen. Oregon and South Carolina, for example, are not assured of adding seats, nor is it guaranteed that New York and Pennsylvania will lose only one district—they both have the potential of losing two.Other potential gainers are North Carolina and Washington, which could add a seat, while Florida could end up gaining two. For the first time in history, California could actually drop a seat, though the most recent trends suggest the state will hold steady at 53 congressional districts.
The purest form of high stakes American political warfare—which comes just once every ten years—is nearly upon us.