Each December, the Census Bureau releases an estimate of population change from the previous year (July to July). The 2009 estimate is the final estimate before the actual hard count in April 2010 that will determine congressional reapportionment.
About a year ago, I told you the odds of Oregon getting a sixth congressional seat were perhaps 50/50. With the latest estimate, prospects have substantially dimmed.
If reapportionment were done today, based on the 2009 estimate, Oregon would not get a sixth congressional district. Oregon's prospective sixth seat would rank #438 - falling just outside of the 435 seats that will be filled.
For the third straight year, Oregon's population growth rate has dropped - from 1.70% in 2005-06 to 0.94% in 2008-09. That doesn't sound like much of a drop, but if we'd stayed at 1.7% for those three years, we'd have some 67,000 more residents - and a sixth seat would be a sure thing (#431).
Based on the 2009 estimate, Texas would gain three seats, while Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina would each gain one seat. Losing one seat each are Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Of course, there's another year of growth to go. If the 2009-2010 growth pattern matches this last year, we'll drop even further - down to #442. Mostly that's due to small shifts among states on the bubble. In addition to the above, South Carolina and Washington would pick up seats - while California, Illinois lose a seat and Ohio loses two.
Of course the July 2008 to July 2009 period featured the financial meltdown and housing market crash. What happens if growth patterns return to the 2007-2008 pattern? Things aren't much better for Oregon - we're at #440. Compared to the '09 estimate, South Carolina and Washington, would pick up seats, while Arizona would pick up 2 and Texas would pick up 4. Louisiana would not lose a seat. California, Illinois, Minnesota, and Missouri would lose a seat, while Ohio would lose two.
Of course, it's critical to remember that these are all estimates. The Polidata reapportionment analysis notes that a comparison of the 2000 census hard count and the final 1999 estimate were "close" but that the "surprise" was that some states jumped up and gained a seat. So, stay tuned.
Finally, remember this: Congressional seats are also electoral votes. Under all of these scenarios, electoral votes are shifting from Obama states to McCain states - from a net -4 to -14 for the Democrats. A similar shift happened after the 2000 census, making the road to the White House a little tougher for Democrats (and our efforts to reach out in the South and West all that much more critical.)