California Will Lose a Seat in Congress Due to New Census Figures

States redistrict every 10 years based on updated population data

California appears set to lose one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives starting in the 118th Congress. That would shrink California’s delegation to 52 representatives, still by far the largest of any state, though specific details of the California redistricting plan will not be finalized until February, 2022.

The 435 seats in the House are reapportioned every 10 years based on population data from the most recent Census. This time around, the Los Angeles Times reports, that means Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon each add a seat, and Texas picks up two. California, New York, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia will each give up one.

A change in the number of Congressional districts means California will undergo a redistricting process. Before that map can be drawn up, the state will need more granular, block-level data from the 2020 Census, data which isn’t expected to be available until September. That will mean district lines may not be finalized until two months into the mid-term election year.

One possible scenario, according to the Times, could impact the CA-25, located partially in L.A. County, the district was formerly held by Democrat Katie Hill, and now represented by Republican Mike Garcia. A redrawn map based on population trends might extend that district farther inland, potentially pulling in more Democratic voters.

California’s district lines are drawn by an independent commission rather than the state legislature. That process is intended to reign in some of the political gerrymandering and “incumbent protection” seen in other states, but it has been known to create some chaos of its own, including drawing lines that leave multiple sitting Members of Congress vying for a single seat.

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