Waiting on reapportionment. Will Oregon get a sixth?

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Sometime in the next few days - as soon as Monday, as late as Christmas Eve - the Census will report the very first numbers from the 2010 census. (Update: The numbers will be released on December 21.)

In a few months, they'll have extraordinarily detailed numbers - by race, gender, family size, income, and more - all the way down to the neighborhood (census block) level.

But for now, everyone in Washington DC is awaiting the simplest numbers of all:

How many people live in each state?

In an instant, those numbers will tell us how the 435 members of Congress will be apportioned. Which states will gain? Which states will lose? (Watch the video for a brief introduction to the way that reapportionment works - or get really nerdy here.)

And here in Oregon: Will we remain a state with five congressional seats for a fourth decade? Or will we grow to six?

In 2007 and 2008, interim population estimates suggested that Oregon would pick up a sixth seat. But by 2009, prospects had dimmed.

Remember that the question is not "Has Oregon grown?" or even "Has Oregon's growth sped up or slowed down?" The real question is "Has Oregon's growth been slightly higher than a few other states?"

There's been much chatter about this question - even more in Washington, where it's assumed that they'll pick up a 10th seat - but not much data.

It's possible that the addition or subtraction of even 10,000 residents from a single other state could tip the balance for or against Oregon. (In 2000, Utah fell short by 857 people - and sued claiming that 11,000 missionaries overseas should be counted for Utah. They lost.)

Of course, all the past estimates are only estimates. Each census, there's at least a couple of surprises.

So, stay tuned. And meantime, ponder how you'd divvy up Oregon into six slices, instead of five.

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    Any idea how Oregon might be sliced and diced with a sixth seat?

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    The only rule? That the districts be equal. Other than that, anything is possible.

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    Several months ago, a pal sat down and methodically drew an Oregon wheel in which 6 spokes met at a center point, creating 6 Districts. Of course my Democratic friend grinned happily and pointed out that the wheel's hub was in Portland.

    All kidding aside, I have spoken to 2 folks who-should-know. One said authoritatively that we're 33k short and will remain at 5 CDs. The other was just as adamant about his info, and noted that his source was confident about a 6th seat.

    So much for my info....

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    ..puts Oregon in the definitely possible category... Dec. 21 is IDed as the date we'll know the answer.


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