Texas will continue to see its political clout grow as it gains two additional congressional seats — the most of any state in the nation — following the 2020 census, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Monday.
Thanks to its fast-growing population — largely due to an increase in residents of color, particularly Hispanics — the state’s share of votes in the U.S. House of Representatives will increase to 38 for the next decade. The new counts reflect a decade of population growth since the last census, which determines how many congressional seats are assigned to each state. Texas is one of six states gaining representation after the census. The other five states are each gaining one seat.
The 2020 census puts the state’s population at 29,145,505 — up from 25.1 million in 2010 — after gaining the most residents of any state in the last decade. More detailed data, which lawmakers need to redraw legislative and congressional districts to reflect that growth, isn’t expected until early fall. But census estimates have shown it’s been driven by people of color.
Through 2019, Hispanics had accounted for more than half of the state’s population growth since 2010, a gain of more than 2 million residents. And although it makes up a small share of the total population, estimates showed the state’s Asian population has grown the fastest since 2010. Estimates have also shown the state’s growth has been concentrated in diverse urban centers and suburban communities.
With its gain of two seats, the state’s footprint in the Electoral College will grow to 40 votes. But Texas will remain in second place behind California for the largest congressional delegation and share of Electoral College votes. California is losing a congressional seat but will remain on top with 52 seats and 54 votes in the Electoral College. The other states losing seats are Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Florida, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon will each gain one seat.
The state’s political heft has been growing steadily for decades. Texas has gained at least one additional congressional seat after every census since 1950, according to the Census Bureau. It’s gained two or more seats after every census since 1980.
Texas ultimately fell short of the three congressional seats it was projected to gain based on population estimates. Census Bureau officials on Monday indicated the state’s 2020 population count was slightly lower — a difference of about 1% — than the estimates.
In the lead-up to the census, Republican Texas lawmakers shot down any significant funding for state efforts to avoid an undercount in the 2020 census, leaving the work of chasing an accurate count to local governments, nonprofits and even churches. Texas is home to a large share of residents — Hispanics, people who don’t speak English, people living in poverty and immigrants, to name a few — who were at the highest risk of being missed in the count.
Ahead of the count, local officials, demographers, community organizers and advocates also raised concerns that the Trump administration’s bid to ask about citizenship on the census could depress response rates. (That effort was eventually blocked by the courts.) With just a month of counting to go — and with the state’s response rate to the census falling behind several states and the national average — Texas abruptly launched a last-minute $15 million advertising campaign paid for by dipping into federal dollars meant to address the coronavirus pandemic.
The state’s congressional delegation comprises 22 Republicans and 13 Democrats, with one vacant seat after the recent death of Republican Ron Wright.
Congressional and state House and Senate districts need to be reconfigured before the 2022 elections to account for the new population figures, and to spread residents across districts that were drawn to be close to equal in population 10 years ago but are now significantly out of balance.