The Census Bureau is already planning for the decennial Census on April 1, 2020. This will be the largest enumeration in American history, as the U.S. population has continued to grow steadily since 2010.
2020 is also on the horizon for the major political parties. The outcome of state and local elections on November 3, 2020, will determine who is in office during the post-enumeration process known as reapportionment and redistricting. One time each decade, seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are reallocated among the states in accordance to their population in the decennial census; this is reapportionment. Legislative seats within state boundaries are also reapportioned at this time. Following reapportionment, state districts of all kinds—from school districts and state legislative districts to U.S. congressional districts—are redrawn to reflect population shifts in a process known as redistricting.
Reapportionment and redistricting shape the political landscape for the 10 years between censuses and can have profound impacts on citizens. Reapportionment often shifts congressional seats between states with different ideological leanings, which impacts both the Electoral College and the likely partisan composition of the U.S. House of Representatives. During redistricting, the way in which districts are drawn influences which candidates can win elections. Unfortunately, both processes can feel opaque and inaccessible (unless you, like us, also find Supreme Court decisions about Census Bureau imputation methods fascinating).
Although reapportionment and redistricting are inherently political, they are also fundamentally about demography. Here at Carolina Demography, we aren’t pollsters or political junkies: we interpret demographic data and describe population trends and what they mean. With that in mind, we have produced a series about the reapportionment and redistricting process that focuses on demographic change and North Carolina congressional districts. Starting Monday, November 2nd, and over the following three weeks, we’ll look at a variety of topics, answering questions such as:
- How did North Carolina’s congressional districts shift after the 2010 Census?
- Will North Carolina gain a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives after 2020?
- Who counts in the apportionment population? (And why do states go to court about it?)
- Why is redistricting so hard?
Through this series of posts and interactive tools, we aim to help you understand reapportionment and redistricting in North Carolina so that you, too, can be ready for 2020.