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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Analysis shows Florida could add two Congressional seats after 2010 Census



A leading analytical firm is estimating that Florida is poised to gain two Congressional seats as a result of population growth following the 2010 Census.

After the once-every-10-years Census is completed, its population figures are used to reapportion Congressional seats, with slower-growing states typically losing seats and faster-growing states usually gaining seats.

Analysts have long figured that Florida would experience enough population growth to earn it one new seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, increasing the size of the Sunshine State delegation from 25 members to 26.

The modeling published today, however, shows that Florida is actually poised to gain two seats, which would push the delegation up to 27 lawmakers. Experts have long considered two new seats a possibility, but in the previous study, published nine months ago, Florida was only on track to gain one additional  seat.

Today, Florida has the fourth largest House delegation in the country, behind California (53 seats), Texas (32) and New York (29). The current analysis predicts that the population shifts will allow Florida to tie New York for third place at 27 seats.

The analysis was released today by Esri, a demographics company, and Election Data Services, which has produced reapportionment models for the past several decades. According to the firms, their study utilizes Census Bureau population estimates, supplemented by a range of sources to track county population trends. The firms also employ county-to-county migration data from the Internal Revenue Service, building permits and housing starts, as well as residential postal delivery counts.

In a statement, Kimball Brace, the president of EDS, said that Florida’s potential upward bump was one of the most surprising findings in the new analysis. Among other things, Florida has suffered severely in the recession, especially in the housing market -- patterns that tend to discourage population growth. The seat Florida would gain would come directly at New York’s expense.

The two-seat gain is not definite at this point. The study is based on population estimates that could change before the final Census numbers come out. The official announcement from the Census Bureau usually is made by the end of this year.

Florida has gained seats steadily as it has gained population since World War II.

Once the Census Bureau apportions Congressional seats between the states, each state then determines specifically how the district lines should be drawn. This process is called redistricting. Currently, the Florida delegation to the U.S. House is has 15 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

[Last modified: Thursday, October 7, 2010 5:31pm]


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