California may lose congressional seat for the first time in history

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The Census Bureau is expected to roll out California’s latest official headcount soon, and the Golden State could lose a congressional seat for the first time in its history due to a steep decline in population growth.

Over the past decade, the annual population growth rate has slipped to 0.06%, lower than at any time since at least 1900.  California would drop from 53 to 52 House seats – still more than any other state – and would in turn lose electoral votes in the presidential election.

Meanwhile, states like Texas and Florida are growing their populations and political clout. Texas is expected to gain as many as three seats, according to an Election Data Services analysis, and Florida two. Arizona and Colorado could also gain seats. 

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If California manages to hold onto all 53 House seats, it could be thanks to the work of the $200 million state leaders spent on census outreach, trying to count as many residents as possible to qualify for a proportional amount of federal funding. 

California’s fleeing residents often cite A skyrocketing cost of living, high taxes and sprawling wildfires as their motivation to move. 

But recently, some residents have become fed up with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and persistent school closures. Newsom is facing an all-but-certain recall race, likely in the fall. 

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California is the only western state expected to lose a House seat, according to an Election Data Services projection obtained by Mercury News. Nine other states stand to lose a seat, mostly in the northeast and midwest. 

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“What you’re seeing is a continuation of the trend that’s been happening from the 1930’s: people leaving the Northeast and Upper Midwest and going south and west,” said Kimball Brace, the president of Election Data Services, a political consulting firm that analyzed the new Census Bureau data. “But California is the exception.”

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