Minnesota Won New York’s Seat by Counting an Extra 26 People

By: - April 27, 2021 12:00 am

Minneapolis children attend a rally to encourage census participation in 2019. Minnesota won out over New York in one of the tightest races for congressional seats in history. Steve Karnowski/The Associated Press

In a decade of historically low population growth, Minnesota beat out New York to keep a congressional seat in the closest counting competition in modern times.

The squeaker of a result underscores the importance of state outreach programs that spent millions in some states to avoid an undercount. Texas and Florida were late to start such programs and saw disappointing results, while California’s million effort failed to stop its first-ever loss of a seat.

Minnesota kept its eighth seat in the U.S. House of Representatives by tallying an additional 26 people. It beat out New York, which lost one of its 27 seats but could have kept it by counting another 89 people out of a total population of more than 20 million, according to numbers released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau and an analysis by Election Data Services, a political consulting firm based in Manassas, Virginia.

Those margins were the closest in the history of the bureau’s apportionment system formula, said Todd Graham, a forecaster for the Minneapolis-based Metropolitan Council, a regional planning organization. The formula has been in use since 1940.

Previously, the closest losing margin was for Oregon in 1970, when the state came within 231 people of gaining a seat, according to the census figures.

The shift of seven seats among 13 states also was the lowest in modern history, reflecting the slowest decade of population growth since the Great Depression. Between 2010 and 2020, the country’s population grew by 7.4%, the lowest percentage since the decade between 1930 to 1940, when the growth rate was 7.3%.

Both Texas and Florida gained fewer seats than projected. Texas was expected to gain three seats but added only two, while Florida gained one instead of two. An expected new seat for Arizona also failed to materialize.

Colorado, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon also added one seat each. In addition to New York, six other states each lost a seat: California, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

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Tim Henderson
Tim Henderson

Tim Henderson covers demographics for Stateline. He has been a reporter at the Miami Herald, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Journal News.