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Reapportionment and the Electoral College

Reapportionment and the Electoral College

By Sean Trende - December 21, 2010

The U.S. Census Bureau today announced its long-awaited final population and reapportionment numbers. The official population of the U.S. as of April 1, 2010 was 308,745,538, up from 281,421,906 in 2000. The Northeast grew 3.2 percent, the Midwest grew 3.9 percent, the South grew 14.3 percent and the West grew by 13.8 percent. Overall, it was the slowest growth in the country since the 1930s.

The apportionment winners were: Texas (4 seats), Florida (2 seats), Arizona (1 seat), Georgia (1 seat), Nevada (1 seat), South Carolina (1 seat), Utah (1 seat), Washington (1 seat). The losers were: New York (2 seats), Ohio (2 seats), Illinois (1 seat), Iowa (1 seat), Louisiana (1 seat), Massachusetts (1 seat), Michigan (1 seat), Missouri (1 seat), New Jersey (1 seat), Pennsylvania (1 seat).

Overall, this represents a continued shift in the Electoral College from blue-leaning states to red-leaning states. If the 2008 election had been held under these census numbers, President Obama's 365-173 victory over John McCain would have become a 359-179 win. For 2004, the numbers are starker still: Bush's 286-251 victory would become a 292-246 win, meaning that even if Kerry had won Ohio, he still would have lost (in 2004, flipping Ohio would have been sufficient to give Kerry the win).

And finally, in 2000, rather than a 271-266 win (with one faithless Gore/Lieberman elector from DC abstaining), the changes of the past two decades would have resulted in a President Bush win of 285-252. While Florida would still would have been the difference-maker, Gore would not have to tell himself that, had he won New Hampshire, Tennessee or Arkansas, the whole Florida debacle would have been irrelevant.

Sean Trende is senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics. He is a co-author of the 2014 Almanac of American Politics and author of The Lost Majority. He can be reached at strende@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @SeanTrende.

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