Maybe it’s coincidence or something else altogether, but a report released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau showed that several red states were undercounted in the 2020 census, while about an equal number of blue states were overcounted.
One practical impact is that red states likely received less representation than they should in Congress, while blue states received more.
And the kicker is the situation cannot be remedied until after the next census in 2030.
The Census Bureau reported that its Post-Enumeration Survey, which uses sampling to check the accuracy of the 2020 census, found that Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas were all undercounted.
Arkansas was the highest, with approximately a 5 percent undercount, while Texas was the lowest at just under 2 percent.
Amidst that group of red states was Illinois, whose population was also undercounted by about 2 percent.
wow — almost all of the undercounted populations were in red states & nearly all of the overcounts were in blue states https://t.co/hvR0HVjfOQ
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) May 19, 2022
On the flip side, the states that were overcounted include Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Utah.
So two red states — Ohio and Utah — were among the blue states with this problem.
The states with the greatest overcounts were Hawaii, with about 6.8 percent, followed by Delaware and Rhode Island at about 5 percent.
The lowest overcount was in Ohio at approximately 1.5 percent.
In 36 states and the District of Columbia, the enumeration survey found no statistically significant difference from the census count.
Roll Call reported, based on the survey’s findings, Texas and Florida should have picked up an additional congressional seat.
Meanwhile, Rhode Island and Minnesota should have likely lost a seat had they not been overcounted.
Tennessee was another red state that might have picked up an additional seat, but for its population being undercounted, according to The Hill.
The map below shows how the apportionment worked out nationwide, based on the 2020 census.
The states in gray stayed the same. Those in purple lost seats, and the states in green gained.
This map shows the changes to the number of Congressional seats for each state between apportionment based on 2010 Census and the 2020 Census. – via @uscensusbureau #Census2020 #APPORTIONMENT #redistricting #arpx pic.twitter.com/mXu1mTfWby
— Kristi Stahr (@KristiStahrAR) April 27, 2021
So Texas picked up two seats, but it should have gotten three, and Florida gained one seat, but should have added two.
“No census is perfect,” Census Bureau Director Robert Santos said during a public webinar about the latest results from enumeration survey, NPR reported.
“And the PES allows us to become more informed about the 2020 census by estimating what portion of the population was correctly counted, where we missed people and where some people were counted that shouldn’t have been.”
NPR further noted that in 1999 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that statistical sampling could not be used to produce census data for reapportioning Congress.
So the current breakdown of House members is what it’s going to be through the 2030 election cycle.
Allison Plyer, a former chair of the bureau’s scientific advisory committee, told NPR that states have the ability to push people to participate in the census in what she called “get-out-the-count” efforts.
She argued Texas could have done more.
“We know that Texas invested very little in get-out-the-count, and when they did so, it was very late in the process,” Plyer said.
So pattern or coincidence in the undercounts and overcounts?
It’s not clear, but given that red states ended up with the short end of the stick, it’s definitely worth giving special attention to the next time the census comes around.
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