As people flock to Oregon, prospects for a sixth congressional seat perk up...

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Once again, the Census Bureau has released estimated population numbers for each of the 50 states.

And the Census numbers jive with the anecdotal data from United Van Lines released last week -- that Oregon is the #1 state in the country for inbound moves (as a percentage of all moves)

Every year around this time, I let my inner nerd out to play with the numbers to see if Oregon is on track for a sixth congressional seat.

You see, for years, we've been hovering right on the bubble for a sixth seat. In 2007 and 2008, we were just ahead of the line -- but by 2009, the projection had us slipping behind again. And when the full Census was conducted in 2010, our sixth seat ranked #442 -- seven spots away from the magic number of 435.

Now, if the Census were held today, we'd be stuck on at five -- our sixth seat ranks #439, as it has every year since 2011.

Of course, the Census isn't today -- it's in 2020. And the question is: what will population look like then?

Here's the thing -- Oregon always seems to outpace the nation when economic growth is strong nationally, and we always lag the nation when the nation is doing poorly. That's why we slipped back in the 2009 estimate and 2010 count.

Anyway, here's how it plays out:

In other words, in order for Oregon to win a sixth seat, we're going to need to outpace the rest of the nation just a bit more. But not much.

In 2000, Oregon was 1.22% of the nation's population. In 2010, 1.24%. Right now, it's 1.25%. If we get to 1.27% or so -- just another 30,000 people -- we'll hit that magic #435.

Another analyst, Kimball Brace at Election Data Services, projects that Oregon 6 would sneak into the top 435 -- albeit right on the bubble. But Brace also notes, rightly, that major events -- like Hurricane Katrina and the 2008 recession -- can have a major impact on population growth and shifts.

In other words, stay tuned.


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