2020 Midwestern Reapportionment Preview

The 12-state region will see its collective delegation decrease in size for the 10th consecutive decade, although at its lowest rate in a half-century

According to projections based on U.S. Census population estimates, four Midwestern states will lose one seat after the 2020 reapportionment – Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio – lowering the region’s representation from 94 to 90 seats in the chamber.

[Note: The loss of one seat each in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio holds under both short-term and long-term modeling: looking at the rate of change in population among the 50 states from the latest year (2016 to 2017) as well as the long-term rate of change since the last U.S. Census in 2010].

This drop of four seats is actually an improvement compared to the last several decades for the 12-state region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin).

The dozen Midwestern states  saw their collective delegation get reduced by eight seats from 1972 to 1982 (121 to 113), eight seats from 1982 to 1992 (113 to 105), five seats from 1992 to 2002 (105 to 100), and six seats from 2002 to 2012 (100 to 94).

The Midwest is therefore on track to lose 4.3 percent of its seats – the smallest percentage loss since 1972 (3.2 percent).

The likely loss of seats in three of these four Midwestern states in 2022 would not be an unusual development, as Ohio has shed at least one seat during every reapportionment since 1962 with Illinois and Michigan doing so every decade since 1972.

For Minnesota, however, losing a seat is big news.

The Gopher State has not lost (or gained) a seat since 1962 – holding at eight seats for more than a half-century.

Minnesota’s delegation nearly fell to seven seats after the 2010 Census, but appears on track to be the last state to lose a seat after 2020.

Minnesotans would lose this seat despite tallying a 5.1 percent growth in population over the last seven years, which is 20th highest in the nation and third highest in the Midwest behind North Dakota (12.3 percent) and South Dakota (6.8 percent).

Every Midwestern state has recorded a positive population growth this decade with the exception of Illinois – falling 0.22 percent thus far (-28.6K from 2010 to 2017). West Virginia (-2.00 percent) and Vermont (-0.33 percent) are the only other states not to see a rise in population over the last seven years.

Falling to seven seats would put Minnesota at its smallest delegation to the chamber since 1892. Michigan will have its smallest delegation since the 1912 reapportionment (13 seats) with Ohio (15 seats) and Illinois (17 seats) remaining at their smallest since the 1820s and 1860s respectively.

Since the Midwestern states collectively reached its peak level of 143 seats after the 1910 Census, the region has shed 49 seats, which is now likely to rise to 53 after the 2020 reapportionment.

That decline is even bigger than the Northeast region, which has seen its delegation drop 46 seats from 130 to 84 during this period. [This tally includes Delaware and Maryland – two states classified as in the South region by the U.S. Census. Excluding those states finds the Northeast dropping 48 seats since 1910, from 123 to 75 seats].

Another way to chart the diminishing Midwestern footprint in the U.S. House is by examining the percentage of seats held by the 12-state region.

If the Midwest loses four seats after 2020, the region will own only 20.7 percent of the 435 voting seats.

That is the lowest level since the 1830s – when only five Midwestern states had achieved statehood (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio) – with 13.3 percent of U.S. House seats coming from the region (32 of 240).

The Midwestern share of U.S. House seats peaked in the 1880s (117 of 325) and 1890s (128 of 356) when the region held 36.0 percent of all seats for both reapportionment periods.

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