Will 2020 be the year that Oregon gets a sixth congressional seat?

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Every December, the Census Bureau releases estimated population numbers for each of the 50 states. Which means that every year, we get a chance to project ahead and figure out if and when Oregon might get a sixth congressional seat.

Oregon is now into its fourth decade with five congressional seats -- and we've always been right on the bubble for a sixth seat. In 2007 and 2008, projections showed us picking up a new seat. But by 2009, as the recession showed up in the numbers, we cooled off. And sure enough, in 2010, a sixth Oregon seat was ranked #442; just seven spots out. Washington, incidentally, got one of the last seats and expanded to ten districts.

So, three years into the twenty-teens, how's it looking? Remember that we're not asking "Is Oregon growing?" We're asking "Is Oregon growing just a little bit faster than the rest of the country?"

According to Real Clear Politics analyst Sean Trende, Oregon is a "close call" at #437. That's assuming that the 2014-2020 growth pattern matches that of 2010-2013.

Trende goes one step further -- he extrapolates all the way to 2040. As he says, that's "for entertainment purposes only", but he's got Oregon finally picking up a sixth seat in 2040.

Personally, I'm feeling confident that we're going to pick one up in 2020. Oregon always tends to zoom up whenever the economy is good, and slip back when the nation drops into recession. Assuming that we're on long, slow climb out of the Great Recession into a sustained period of economic strength (and yes, that's a big assumption - but it tends to happen when Democrats are in the White House), I suspect we're likely to see enough growth to outpace the country to jump from #437 to #435.


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