The long awaited 2020 census data was released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau. These data are used for a variety of purposes, but perhaps none more significant than congressional district reapportionment. Wisconsin will neither gain nor lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives — holding steady at eight. Our population grew 3.6 percent to just shy of 5.9 million. This outpaced Midwest growth by half a point, but trailed national growth, which clocked in at 7.1 percent.
The same cannot be said for some of our Midwestern neighbors; Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio will all shed one seat each. Joining them are Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, and California. On the opposite side of the ledger, Texas will receive two additional seats. Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Montana, and Oregon will gain one each.
This sets the scene for a closely watched reapportionment process once district-level data becomes available later this year. Democrats currently hold a razor thin margin in the House of Representatives; will they be able to hold on in the November 2022 midterms? We will have to wait and see!
In Wisconsin, congressional and legislative district boundaries are drawn by the state legislature. This process will begin in August and stretch well into the fall. The maps are treated like ordinary bills — they must be passed in identical forms by both houses and then signed into law by the Governor. It is unlikely Democratic Governor Tony Evers will approve districts passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature and the maps are all but guaranteed to end up in court. In fact, the legal jockeying has already begun to try to dictate the venue for those anticipated court interventions.