© 2023 | WUWF Public Media
11000 University Parkway
Pensacola, FL 32514
850 474-2787
NPR for Florida's Great Northwest
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Census Gives Florida More Congressional Clout

United States Census Bureau


Florida is among states whose congressional delegations will grow in the next Congress, according to the first results from the Census Bureau’s 2020 head count.

The decennial survey of America’s population, is what Bureau Director Ron Jarmin calls the smallest shift in any decade in almost a century.

“Six states will gain seats in the House of Representatives,” Jarmin said Monday. “Texas will gain two seats; and Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon will each gain one seat. Seven states will each lose one seat in the House – California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Texas’ population grew by about four million people over the past decade. Montana will get back a second district, 30 years after losing it in a previous round of apportionment.

“The states that have the most representatives in Congress are California with 52 seats; Texas, with 38 seats, Florida with 28 seats, and New York with 26 seats,” said Jarmin. “And together, those states will hold about a third of the total seats in the House of Representatives.”

As evidenced by the additional seat, Florida’s growing population is expanding the state’s influence on Capitol Hill and in presidential politics. The state gained more than 2.7 million residents since the last once-a-decade count in 2010, boosting its population to 21.5 million – third most behind California and Texas. The 28th House seat in Florida also translates to 30 votes in the Electoral College for the 2024 presidential election.

“Based on the [inaugural] 1790 Census, each member of the House represented roughly 34,000 people; now, the average population size of each House district will be 761,000 – which is an increase of 50,000 people per representative when compared to the average of 710,000 per representative, based on the 2010 Census,” Jarmin said.

The expectation of and additional seat has already triggered a flurry of political speculation as a redistricting panel gets ready to carve out new congressional and state legislative boundaries.

Counting noses in a nation of more than 300 million people is a tough enough job without the challenges of 2020. 

“A global pandemic, destructive wildfires, the most active hurricane season on record, and civil unrest across the country,” said Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. “The Census Bureau had to quickly adapt its operations to confront these challenges head-on.”

Raimondo thanked the Census workers, and those taking the time to fill out their forms. As a former governor of Rhode Island, she says she knows first-hand that Census data are critical.

“We use the data to decide how many teachers we need in our schools; how much funding we need for public housing programs,” Raimondo said. “Where to locate a business or a health clinic; where to build new roads. We use the data to make sure the economy’s working for everyone.”

Next stop for the numbers, says Raimondo, is the White House.

“I assured the president that the Census was complete and accurate,” said Raimondo. “President Biden will then deliver the population counts and apportionment results to Congress, as required by law. But our work isn’t over yet. And we look forward to delivering the districting data no later than Sept. 30.”

The 2020 Census shows the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2020, was 331,449,281 – give or take new immigrants and newborns since then.