Minnesota Braces to Lose US House Seat for Just 3rd Time in History

Will the Gopher State host a rare incumbent vs. incumbent matchup in 2022?

Minnesota’s U.S. House delegation narrowly avoided losing a seat after the 2010 U.S. Census.

That is unlikely to be the case following the 2020 Census which is part of the reason why Governor Tim Walz helped launch the “We Count” campaign by the Minnesota Complete Count Committee earlier this month – aiming to reach an accurate and “fully-inclusive” count of the state’s population.

Based on current population estimates, Minnesota is one of six states poised to lose a seat for the 118th Congress following the 2022 election along with Illinois, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Of these half-dozen states, Minnesota has had to endure the loss of representation in Congress the least frequently.

Pennsylvania has lost seats a record 11 times (following the 1840, 1860, 1930, 1940, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2010 Censuses) with New York doing so 10 times (1840, 1850, 1860, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010), Illinois seven times (1940, 1950, 1960, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2020), Michigan four times (1980, 1990, 2000, 2010), and West Virginia three times (1960, 1970, 1990).

Meanwhile, Minnesota has seen the size of its U.S. House delegation decrease just twice in state history.

Following the 1930 Census, the state’s delegation dropped from 10 to nine seats and three decades later Minnesota shed one more seat to its current level of eight.

If Minnesota does lose a seat after 2020, it will be interesting to see if any incumbent retires (or runs for another office) instead of choosing to go head-to-head against a fellow delegation member (potentially from his or her own party).

In 1962, DFLer Fred Marshall of the 6th CD opted not to seek an eighth term so this scenario was avoided. The state’s remaining eight U.S. Representative ran for reelection.

Six were successful (Republicans Al Quie, Anchor Nelsen, Clark MacGregor, and Odin Langen and DFLers Joseph Karth and John Blatnik). One Republican lost his party’s nomination (H. Carl Andersen to Robert Odegard) and one lost the general election (Walter Judd to Don Fraser).

In 1932, the state had not redrawn new district lines after losing its 10th seat so each of the nine seats were elected at-large for that cycle. As a result, multiple incumbents were forced to run against each other – both for their party’s nomination and in the general election.

Other states that have lost U.S. House seats in several cycles over the decades include Massachusetts (following 10 Censuses), Ohio (seven), Virginia (seven), Iowa (six), Kentucky (six), Maine (six), and Tennessee (six).

Fifteen states have never lost a seat – not surprisingly most from the Western region – including Alaska and Wyoming who have never been represented by more than a single at-large U.S. Representative.

The other states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, and Washington.

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3 Comments on "Minnesota Braces to Lose US House Seat for Just 3rd Time in History"

  1. 1. “…IL…(…2020)” ??
    2. Prior to the 1930s, the size of US House simply increased as the national population did [The size was ‘fixed’ at 435, except for temporary augmentations upon admissions of AK and HI, since the ’32 elections]. Thus (to the best of my understanding) NO state ought to have LOST any seat(s) before then.
    3. Even without the trauma(?) of losing a seat, an incumbent v incumbent matchup could occur, and did (albeit not for the general) in 1981-82, when “Independent Republican” representatives Arlen Erdahl and Thomas Michael “Tom” Hagedorn faced off against each other in the pre-primary phase of the nomination for the then-redrawn (and expanded) SE seat anchored by Rochester. As for 2022, if, as expected (?), the state loses a seat, the sprawling Western Tier seat may well be the one most likely to be dismantled, namely split up between the aforementioned Rochester-based seat (which now is comprised of the Southern Tier) and the seat anchored by Duluth (it seems highly unlikely that the central-city Minneapolis and Saint Paul seats would be colllapsed into a single seat, methinks).

    • Dr Eric Ostermeier | April 18, 2019 at 7:18 pm | Reply

      Re #2: Terminology aside, various state delegations were reduced in size frequently before the 1930s. For example, PA’s delegation went from 28 to 24 seats after the 1840 Census.
      Re #3: The scenario you lay out seems quite plausible. (And perhaps Collin Peterson will retire at the end of the 117th Congress?).

      • John Chessant | April 19, 2019 at 1:39 pm | Reply

        #2: Indeed, it is possible for a state to lose seats even when the size of the House is increased. This is a quirk of rounding; the Wikipedia page on the “apportionment paradox” has a simplified example. According to that page, two mathematicians proved in 1983 that any system of apportioning seats is susceptible to some paradox of this sort.

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