COVID Deaths Cost NY Congressional Seat in 2020 Census


It’s one of those statistical near-misses that bears examination.

No, the fact that New York lost a congressional seat because of less than a hundred people, according to reports, doesn’t compare in import to the 537 votes in Florida that decided the 2000 presidential election in favor of George W. Bush.

New York was one of seven states to lose a House of Representatives seat after the 2020 census results, along with California, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

However, it was expected they would lose a seat, and many predicted they would lose multiple seats. As Dan McLaughlin pointed out at National Review, Democrats are in control of the state legislature there and can redo the map to, if possible, eliminate a Republican district.

(Some have also speculated that if state Democrats were particularly enterprising and/or devious, they could rid themselves of a pest of their own by significantly redrawing the district of a certain Instagram-friendly Bronx socialist best known by a three-letter acronym whose antics have given her party no small amount of agitation.)

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At worst, they lose a seat, they lose an electoral vote — big deal, right?

However, decisions will have to be made when New York redistricts so as to ensure the congressional bedspread isn’t stretched so thin that unintended consequences don’t occur.

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The Empire State already has several close swing districts upstate where Democrats had trouble defending gains they made in the 2018 midterms — including the last House race to be officially called, in which Republican Claudia Tenney was declared the victor by just 109 votes over incumbent Democrat Anthony Brindisi.

These were all decisions that wouldn’t have to be made if New York had 89 more residents, remember.

What, pray tell, could have precluded this?

To start with, there was the number of people New York lost. Between 2019 and 2020 — before the pandemic hit — the state had shed 126,355 residents, according to USA Today.

Over the past decade, they’d shed over 63,000 residents.

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If they hadn’t taxed their residents so obscenely or managed the state so poorly, we wouldn’t be talking about this at all.

There was another thing, however, that people couldn’t help to note:

As the U.S. Census Bureau notes on their website, the census is supposed to designate where you were living on April 1, 2020.

You don’t need to return or fill out the census form by then, which was a common misunderstanding on Twitter. However, if you were living on April 1, you were supposed to be counted, according to NPR.

New York was among the first states hit hard by the novel coronavirus back when it was truly novel. Perhaps, what’s more, they brought it upon themselves.

Notice the date on the news article from The Official Website of the City of New York. On Feb. 13, 2020, the city of New York was encouraging people to go out and patronize Asian-American businesses, who had seen a sharp decline in revenue even “despite there being no confirmed cases of Coronavirus in New York City.”

“In hard times, New Yorkers know to stand by their neighbors,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in the news release. “We’re in Flushing [Queens] today to embrace Asian-American owned small businesses and say to all New Yorkers: New York City’s Chinatowns are open for business!”

“It is important to support the Chinese community in New York City. Unfortunately many businesses and restaurants in Chinatown, Flushing and Sunset Park are suffering because some customers are afraid of the coronavirus,” Speaker Corey Johnson said.

“But those fears are not based on facts and science. The risk of infection to New Yorkers is low. There is no need to avoid public spaces. I urge everyone to dine and shop as usual.”

“Currently, the risk for novel coronavirus in New York City remains low, while our preparedness as a city remains high. There is no reason to avoid public settings, including subways and—most of all—our city’s famous Chinese restaurants and small businesses,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot

This is literally like watching the first act of a horror movie. This is the mayor of Amity telling everyone that the beaches needed to be open for July 4th. The thing is that in “Jaws,” a shark can’t kill hundreds of thousands of people.

COVID has — and yes, early COVID deaths certainly weren’t the only reason why they lost a seat, but darned if it doesn’t draw attention to those early months of mismanagement.

Speaking of mismanagement, there is a less persuasive argument going around regarding COVID and the congressional seat:

It’s a macabre thought, but so is the idea that ordering nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients from hospitals is a good way to free up space for other COVID patients. You know, like the ones who got COVID after Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo did just that.

However, as grimly fitting as that would have been for Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo, it’s unlikely his order would have affected this.

Remember, the census determines where you were living on April 1 — or, whether you were living. Cuomo’s order to send seniors back into nursing homes didn’t occur until March 25, according to Spectrum Local News. Given the incubation period of COVID-19, it’s improbable it would have caused many deaths before then.

You could argue this would have led to the deceased not returning the census. However, the Census Bureau says that between April 16 and June 19, the Census Bureau says “[c]ensus takers worked with administrators at colleges, senior centers, prisons, and other facilities that house large groups of people to make sure everyone was counted.”

Such efforts assumedly would have counted those who had died post-April 1.

This assumes a lot — but so, too, does the hot take that Andrew Cuomo killed so many seniors that his state lost a House seat, considering they were supposed to be counted.

Then again, he didn’t need to. New York City’s mismanagement of COVID-19, at the very least, was enough for them to lose those 89 lives and then some.

There are plenty of reasons why large blue states like New York lost seats. However, given the statistical anomaly that New York represented, every little bit hurt. And, in this case, it was a reminder to Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio how much hurt they inflicted in the months and year to come.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture