PHOENIX (AP) - Although Arizona was among one of the fastest-growing states during the last decade, its 7.1 million population was not enough to give it a 10th congressional seat.
U.S. Census Bureau data released Monday show Arizona’s clout in Washington may be growing, but it’s not quite enough to give it a 12th presidential electoral vote.
Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow victory here in 2020 showed that Arizona is now one of a handful of swing states that are instrumental in determining the presidential contest. Arizona had gained at least one U.S. House seat in every census since 1950.
California loses a seat, while other states see gains
The new allocation of congressional seats came in the U.S. Census Bureau’s first release of data from a 2020 headcount.
Altogether, the U.S. population rose to 331,449,281 last year, the Census Bureau said, a 7.4% increase that was the second-slowest ever. Experts say that paltry pace reflects the combination of an aging population, slowing immigration and the scars of the Great Recession, which led many young adults to delay marriage and starting families.
The numbers generally chart familiar American migration patterns but also confirm one historic marker: For the first time in 170 years of statehood, California is losing a congressional seat, a result of slowed migration to the nation’s most populous state, which was once a symbol of the country’s expansive frontier.
The count, which must happen every 10 years under the U.S. Constitution, was complicated by safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the need for social distancing, and by last-minute litigation over efforts by President Donald Trump’s administration to include a question on citizenship.
The Census Bureau released only basic data Monday. The neighborhood-level numbers that will be used to draw new legislative and congressional district boundaries won’t be released until late summer or the fall.
The maps will be approved by the Independent Redistricting Commission, comprised of two Democrats, two Republicans and an independent voter.
Political leaders speak out
As news that Arizona will not get an extra congressional seat spreads, some elected officials are speaking out.
In a statement, Rep. Greg Stanton accused leaders in Arizona of undermining the Census count.
"Governor Ducey refused to stand up for Arizona and instead followed former President Trump’s strategy to intimidate Latinos and discourage their participation in the Census," Rep. Stanton wrote, in a statement.
Debbie Johnson, who ran Arizona's Complete Count Commission, said:
"Although we’re disappointed that Arizona didn’t gain an additional new congressional seat as had been forecasted by some, that shouldn’t diminish all the amazing work that was done across our state to ensure a complete count."
Johnson said 99.9% of the people were counted in Arizona, but Rep. Ruben Gallego said that is not true.
There is no way anyone can honestly say and see what happened, and see the growth that’s been happening right now, whether it’s Downtown, the East Valley, the West Valley, and say that the census was conducted in a manner that was professionally done that did not have an negative impact on Arizona. That’s false on all levels," said Rep. Gallego.
Officials with the Census Bureau, however, stood by the data and how they used it to determine congressional seats nationally.
"We're very confident in the quality of the data, and we worked hard to make ensure the data we're using to calculate the apportionment is correct," said Kristin Koslap.
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