California's Political Clout in DC Unlikely to Grow

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USA Map on Brick Wall

Flickr: Don Hankins

The U.S. Census Bureau is set to release the population count tomorrow for every state in the nation, the basis for calculating how our 435 U.S. congressional seats will be divvied up.  And, for the first time in our history as a state, California is not expected to gain a larger share of political representation.

This two-minute census bureau video explains the process, called apportionment: The U.S. Census and the Amazing Apportionment Machine

We currently have 53 seats in congress, based on our 2000 census population count of 33,871,648. California's population has grown since then and could reach 39,000,000 in the 2010 count to be released tomorrow. But other states have grown too, perhaps Texas most of all, so demographic analysts predict California's congressional delegation won't grow.

For a bit of historical perspective, here's how many seats we've had over the years:

1850: 2
1860: 3
1870: 4 
1880: 6 
1890: 7
1900: 8
1910: 11
1920: Congress didn't pass a reapportionment act so the allocation stayed the same
1930: 20
1940: 23
1950: 30
1960: 38
1970: 43
1980: 45
1990: 52
2000: 53 

The way California's congressional seats are distributed within the state is likely to change, however, reflecting the state's shifting population centers. Number crunchers at a think tank at Claremont McKenna College predict that the Central Valley will gain representation at the expense of the San Francisco Bay Area.

How the state's total number of seats is distributed and where the boundaries of congressional districts will lie in the coming decade is the task of the state's first-ever Citizens Redistricting Commission.

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