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Missouri, Illinois each lose a House seat

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 21, 2010 - Missouri and Illinois will lose one seat each in the U.S. House of Representatives as a result of the population totals revealed Tuesday by the Census Bureau.

The two states join eight others that will lose seats; eight states will gain seats, for a total shift of 12 seats. The recent trend of population moving from the Northeast and the Midwest to the West and the South continues, with Texas gaining four seats, Florida two and Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington state each gaining one.

Along with Missouri and Illinois, states losing seats are Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Of those, Ohio and New York lose two seats each; the others lose one each.

Each congressional district will have about 710,000 residents -- versus 646,952 in 2000.

Nationally, the population as of April 1, 2010, was 308,745,538, up 9.7 percent from 2000's total of 281,421,906.

Among states, Nevada showed the largest percentage increase, up 35.1 percent; Michigan lost the most, 0.6 percent. Puerto Rico lost 2.2 percent. No states lost population in 2000 compared with 1990.

Aware that he and St. Louis are the likely GOP target, Russ Carnahan issued a statement: "This is just the first step in a long process. My hope is that everyone involved is focused solely on making sure the map is drawn in a way that best serves the people and communities of Missouri. After all, you have to draw the lines according to where the people are. For my part, I am going to continue working closely with my Missouri colleagues at every level of government in both political parties to make sure that the new map is fair and designed to ensure strong representation for the people of this region."

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay posted a detailed analysis on his blog, in which he observed, "I have heard plenty of speculation, mostly by their partisans, that a new map would pit U.S. Reps. Lacy Clay and Russ Carnahan, each of whom represents part of St. Louis and St. Louis County, against each other in a primary in 2012. I think it is equally possible that the change happens in some other part of the state. Since no one really knows which House members will be affected, it is safe to expect a sharply increased amount of constituent correspondence from all of them."

For its part, David Cole, chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, said, "While it is disappointing that Missouri will lose representation in Congress and the Electoral College, I am confident that the General Assembly will work diligently to ensure that all Missourians are represented fairly and adequately. Once the process is complete, we believe that the legislature will have produced a fair map that passes legal muster."

A signal of the GOP-controlled Legislature's intent was evident late Monday, when Missouri state House speaker-elect Steve Tilley announced his choices for the 12-member House panel charged with redrawing congressional boundaries. The two members from the city of St. Louis are both from U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay's district: state Reps. Jamilah Nasheed and Penny Hubbard, both Democrats. Carnahan's district had one, from the southern half of his district: state Rep. Ron Casey, D-Hillsboro.

It will be weeks before the Legislature gets more detailed information from the Census Bureau on the county-by-county and precinct-by-precinct results that would document which areas of the state actually lost population and which gained it.

But since the new congressional districts will be larger -- with about 60,000 more people apiece than the current boundaries -- all the remaining districts will need to spread out to grab more people.

The number of House seats in each state is determined by something called the method of equal proportion. The Census Bureau released a video explaining the method here.

After the 2000 census, Missouri's House representation remained unchanged at nine, but Illinois lost a seat to its current 19. (Click here to read about apportionment through the years.)

The last time Missouri lost a seat in the House was after the 1980 census, when its delegation shrank to its current nine from 10. The most seats it has ever had in the House was 16, but it lost three seats after the 1930 census and has been losing or holding steady ever since.

In Illinois, the highest number of seats was 27; the number began to shrink after the 1940 census.

Since the first national census was conducted in 1790, district lines have been redrawn every 10 years based on the latest figures. The number of Americans included in each U.S. House district has steadily increased over the years, from 34,000 residents in the first census to about 647,000 based on figures from 2000. For 2010, the average population of each House district grew to 710,767.

The last time the number of members of the House was changed was in 1913, when Congress set the membership at its current 435.

You can read the Census Bureau's detailed guide to 2010 redistricting data.

Jo Mannies, the Beacon's political reporter, and Robert Koenig, the Beacon's Washington correspondent, contributed information to this story.

Dale Singer began his career in professional journalism in 1969 by talking his way into a summer vacation replacement job at the now-defunct United Press International bureau in St. Louis; he later joined UPI full-time in 1972. Eight years later, he moved to the Post-Dispatch, where for the next 28-plus years he was a business reporter and editor, a Metro reporter specializing in education, assistant editor of the Editorial Page for 10 years and finally news editor of the newspaper's website. In September of 2008, he joined the staff of the Beacon, where he reported primarily on education. In addition to practicing journalism, Dale has been an adjunct professor at University College at Washington U. He and his wife live in west St. Louis County with their spoiled Bichon, Teddy. They have two adult daughters, who have followed them into the word business as a communications manager and a website editor, and three grandchildren. Dale reported for St. Louis Public Radio from 2013 to 2016.