Study: California may cease being most populous state in the Union before 2040

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A new study by The Brennan Center paints an increasingly bleak picture for blue states, who are projected to lose as many as 18 congressional seats in the next census-driven reapportionment, California stands to lose an astonishing four congressional seats after the 2030 census, and may fall to second place behind Texas in total population before 2040 if current trends continue, the study authors warn.

According to the study’s authors, since World War II Congressional seats have consistently shifted out of the northeast to the south and west. However, the next Congressional reapportionment may buck this trend for the first time, as west coast states are also predicted to lose representation. Between California and Oregon, the west coast may lose a total of 6 seats in Congress. New York and Illinois are also projected to lose 3 and 2 seats, respectively.

California lost a single seat after the 2020 apportionment, the first time in the state’s history it had ever lost a Congressional seat.

The seats lost by the west coast states and the northeast will largely be picked up by Texas (projected to gain 4 seats), Florida (projected to gain 3 seats) and states in the south and mountain west.

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Shockingly, the study’s authors note that Texas and Florida alone account for over 70 percent of the population growth in the United States since 2020.

Interestingly, the study’s authors strike a note of caution that the population migration out of blue states may not remain as heavy as it was during the first three years of this decade, and specifically the study pinpoints COVID-19 restrictions implemented by blue state governments as a reason for the mass exodus from these states. According to the study’s authors, “There are signs that some of this may be happening: the most recent census figures for the period between July 1, 2022, and July 1, 2023, show a decrease in the heightened outbound migration (from blue states) of the pandemic years.”

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