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2020 Census indicates ‘Republicans could take back the House in 2022’

State demographic shifts will make red states turn purple, expert says

EVANSTON, Ill. – Yesterday, the U.S. Census Bureau released 2020 data on state population, revealing declines in Illinois and other rust belt states and increases in sun belt states like Texas and Florida. Northwestern University political science professors are available to comment on how shifts in congressional seats may shape state and national politics for the foreseeable future. 

Alvin B. Tillery Jr. is an associate professor of political science and director of the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy. His research and teaching interests are in the fields of American politics and political theory. His research focuses on American political development, racial and ethnic politics and media and politics. He can be reached at alvin.tillery@northwestern.edu or by contacting Stephanie Kulke at 773-501-4360.

Quote from Professor Tillery
“The U.S. Census Bureau’s announcement that Illinois is projected to be among the seven states that will lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives is meaningful on several levels. On the state level, it continues the narrative that Illinois needs to shift its priorities and governance to attract new migrants and businesses to the state. The population losses downstate will also give the Democratic legislature a pure justification for doing what they were sure to do anyway: eliminate one of the five Republican-controlled seats in the Illinois delegation.

“In terms of the national political picture, there will be a shift from Texas gaining two seats. There is no doubt that the Republican-controlled legislature in Texas will find a way to add two more members to party’s caucus in the House of Representatives. This really raises the odds that the Republicans could take back the House in 2022. The truly ironic, and some might say tragic, thing for the Democrats is that Texas is gaining seats because of the influx of people of color and young urbane whites — both of whom are more likely to vote for the Democrats — to its large metropolitan areas. So, in short, the growing diversity of Texas is burnishing the power of a Republican Party that has no intentions to represent those voters.”  

Jaime Dominguez is an assistant professor of instruction in the department of political science in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. His focus areas include American culture and politics, race, ethnic and Latino and Chicago politics, as well as the politics of immigration. He can be reached at j-dominguez@northwestern.edu or by contacting Stephanie Kulke at 773-501-4360.

Quote from Professor Dominguez
“The loss of congressional seats in the Midwest and in particular, Illinois and Michigan, is a reflection of new demographic shifts. However, in terms of power and representation, the gains of two seats in Texas and another in Florida does not mean that as Republican-leaning states, the GOP will increase their share of congressional seats at the expense of Democrats. The reason for this is that an increasing number of younger, more educated and more mobile people are moving to those places, and they tend to be more progressive in their politics.

“More importantly, between 2010 and 2020, the U.S. gained 23 million more people but more than 90% are non-white meaning they are either Black, Latino or Asian and they tend to vote more Democratic and are less conservative. It is the growth of this demographic that is going to eventually make red states like Texas turn purple and make them more competitive at the state and federal levels.”