In the nearly four decades I’ve covered political news in Missouri, the state has lost two seats in the U.S. House.
As you remember from government classes in high school, the distribution of these 435 seats depends on populations of states relative to one another.
Missouri’s population since 1980 has grown by nearly 1.2 million people. Other states, mostly in the south and west, have grown at a much greater rate.
As a result, Missouri went from 10 seats to nine in the years following the 1980 census. That number decreased from nine to eight after the decennial population count in 2010.
(Back in 1920, Missouri had 16 seats in the House, a heyday of representation.)
Projections show the state in no danger of losing another seat with next year’s census, though some of the usual suspects have been mentioned for changes.
Texas and Florida, always swelling, will pick up more than one seat, and Arizona, North Carolina and Utah also will gain at least one. On the losing side, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania will possibly lessen their representation by one each, and New York might fall by two.
Most of the nation’s 327 million people have no interest in any of this, or at least not the sort paid in Washington, D.C. There, representation is currency, and states trade in the power that comes from, say, 19 seats as opposed to 18.
In truth, one vote here and there in the House, and its corresponding electoral vote every four years, might be the difference between federal funding for a project and an indifference experienced to its importance. You never know.
The fortunes of Missouri in this regard hinge largely of how the population shifts its residency from state to state. Natural changes (that is, births versus deaths) and influxes from other countries also play a role.
The Census Bureau came out recently with its annual geographic mobility report, and the numbers show Missouri with a mixed bag when it comes to people moving in and out.
About 85 percent of Missourians lived in the same house in 2018 that they lived in the year before. Roughly 721,000 residents moved to another house within the state.
The change comes in the migration from one state to another. This report indicates that between 2017 and 2018, 152,326 people moved into Missouri from another state. However, 174,949 moved to other states from Missouri.
Most of the movement took place between neighboring states. Missouri had a net loss of residents to Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee and Nebraska. It had a net gain from Illinois and Iowa.
Of the states where populations have grown in a large way, Missouri lost residents in this one year to Texas (minus 10,458 net), Florida (minus 2,662), and Arizona (minus 2,467).
Missouri actually got 175 more immigrants from California than California got from Missouri. After years of gains, California finds itself on the bubble of losing a seat.
Theories float around on states, particularly their legislatures, taking steps to enhance their appeal through more favorable tax policies. Missouri has done this, or at least made the argument, and perhaps it has yielded a favorable outcome where Illinois is concerned.
It appears reasonable that warmer climates and family matters push more individuals to move than tax rates. For all their occasional bluster, lawmakers can do little about either of those.
Missourians head into the 2020 census with expectations of the status quo, anticipating growth but not growth of influence. At least the congressional contingent will not suffer a setback.