Census data will arrive next week, setting up a redistribution fight

After a long delay, the Census Bureau will release the data used to redraw the legislative boundaries of Congress and states on Thursday, August 12, the agency said in a statement, putting in place what is sure to be a very controversial national fight over redistribution ahead of next year’s midterm elections.

Census data had been delayed in large part due to difficulties in collecting and processing the massive amount of information amid the coronavirus pandemic, but also due to President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to meddle census by adjusting its calendar and try to add a question of citizenship.

The pandemic and Mr. Trump’s actions have left some people questioning the accuracy of the census. The debate on the issue of citizenship, in particular, raised concerns about a possible suppression of the participation of Latin American communities.

The delay has forced many states to delay their redistribution plans, which will most likely lead to a compressed and muddled process with high stakes. There is a growing belief in Washington that the balance of power in the House of Representatives after the 2022 midterm elections will largely depend on the outcome of the redistribution process.

Several battlefield states, including Florida, Texas, and North Carolina, are should gain at least one new seat in Congress, as do Colorado, Montana and Oregon. Seven states will lose a seat: New York, California, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Illinois.

Potential candidates for the House and Senate have also been forced to keep their political ambitions frozen in amber while waiting to see if the redistribution will affect their ability to hold a current seat, open up the possibility of running for a newly drawn seat, or otherwise change their calculation to find a particular office.

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