Election Data Services analysis:
New Census Bureau population estimates for 2020 released today shows a subtle but significant change in the upcoming apportionment process, that is front and center in the Supreme Court’s decision last week in New York v. Trump. The population impacts whether the state of New York loses either one or two congressional districts and whether that seat goes to Alabama if the current estimate numbers were used for apportionment in 2020. These numbers are only estimates and reflect a normal Census Bureau practice of generating population estimates each year from reviewing birth, death and immigration records. These ARE NOT reflecting results from the actual 2020 Census collection efforts from this year, as those numbers are not expected out until sometime in January 2021.
Today’s population estimates reflect numbers as of July 1, 2020, after the official date of April 1, 2020 that is commonly used for Census Day. In all other years of this decade, Election Data Services has aged (added to) the population estimates released yearly by the Census Bureau an additional nine months to bring them in line with Census Day. Because today’s population estimates are pegged to a date after Census Day, for this year’s study we have subtracted a quarter of the year’s growth to move the estimates back to April 1, 2020. While this was done for consistence with previous studies this decade, the Covid pandemic has caused changes in Census practices for the actual counting process in 2020, most importantly in drawing out the timetable for survey collection. As a result, we are releasing apportionment estimates for both April 1, 2020 and July 1, 2020.
That subtle three month change in population estimates will determine whether Alabama loses a Congressional District, as the back-dated April 2020 data shows the loss by only 5,170 people (that seat would have been #436 in the apportionment process, one away from the 435 cut-off point.) The state of Alabama is currently involved in a court case called State of Alabama v. US Department of Commerce where the state has made the claim that their loss of a congressional district is due to the inclusion of illegal aliens in the census count. But Alabama’s loss would change to no-change in their number of Congressional Districts if the new Census estimates for July 1 were instead used for apportionment. Alabama would keep their 7th seat (seat #435) by only 6,120 people to spare without regard to whether illegal aliens were counted in the census or not.