Population Change by Congressional District, 2008

The Census Bureau recently released all of its data from the 2008 American Community Survey estimates, which is like Christmas Day in the Crisitunity household. I’ll be looking at the data divvied up by congressional district in several different ways in the coming week; today, I’m starting with the most basic element: population change. This doesn’t tell us much about how the composition of each district is changing, but it tells us a lot about what direction different districts are heading as we approach 2010 redistricting.

Let’s start with the 25 districts that have experience the greatest population change over the period from the 2000 census to the 2008 estimate, in terms of raw numbers. These are the districts that will be shedding population in 2010, in some cases into newly-created districts:


District Rep. 2000 2008 Change
AZ-02 Franks (R) 641,435 991,439 350,004
AZ-06 Flake (R) 641,360 957,920 316,560
TX-10 McCaul (R) 651,523 955,363 303,840
NV-03 Titus (D) 665,345 966,577 301,232
FL-05 Brown-Waite (R) 639,719 920,242 280,523
GA-07 Linder (R) 630,511 901,363 270,852
UT-03 Chaffetz (R) 744,545 974,639 230,094
NC-09 Myrick (R) 619,705 847,888 228,183
TX-26 Burgess (R) 651,858 875,556 223,698
TX-22 Olson (R) 651,657 873,878 222,221
CA-45 Bono Mack (R) 638,553 860,052 221,499
GA-06 T. Price (R) 630,613 834,530 203,917
AZ-07 Grijalva (D) 640,996 840,106 199,110
TX-03 S. Johnson (R) 651,782 845,481 193,699
CA-44 Calvert (R) 639,008 831,454 192,446
FL-14 Mack (R) 639,298 830,717 191,419
TX-31 Carter (R) 651,868 841,984 190,116
CA-25 McKeon (R) 638,768 819,973 181,205
CO-06 Coffman (R) 614,491 794,480 179,989
TX-21 L. Smith (R) 651,930 828,925 176,995
NC-04 D. Price (D) 619,432 794,794 175,362
FL-25 M. Diaz-Balart (R) 638,315 812,082 173,767
GA-09 Deal (R) 629,678 803,245 173,567
IL-14 Foster (D) 654,031 823,661 169,630
FL-06 Stearns (R) 638,952 807,026 168,074

You may recall that we looked at this same project a year ago, using 2007 data. Compared with last year’s list of the top 20 gainers, there’s a lot of stability. AZ-02 moves up from #3 to the top spot, with AZ-06 falling to second place. Entrants to the list are TX-31, CA-25, TX-21, NC-04, and FL-06, while GA-03, ID-01, FL-08, VA-10, and WA-08 fall off.

Much more over the flip…

And here are the districts that have lost the most population in the period from 2000 to 2008. These ones will need to absorb the most surrounding territory (or simply be eliminated and dispersed into their neighboring districts):


District Rep. 2000 2008 Change
LA-02 Cao (R) 639,048 469,262 – 169,786
MI-13 Kilpatrick (D) 662,844 558,280 – 104,564
OH-11 Fudge (D) 630,668 548,080 -82,588
PA-14 Doyle (D) 645,809 574,861 – 70,948
MI-14 Conyers (D) 662,468 591,652 – 70,816
PA-02 Fattah (D) 647,350 586,216 – 61,134
NY-28 Slaughter (D) 654,464 598,124 – 56,340
TN-09 Cohen (D) 631,740 586,190 – 45,550
AL-07 A. Davis (D) 635,631 591,670 – 43,961
MI-12 Levin (D) 662,559 621,619 – 40,940
MS-02 B. Thompson (D) 710,996 670,638 – 40,358
PA-01 Brady (D) 645,422 606,632 – 38,790
OH-10 Kucinich (D) 631,003 593,065 – 37,938
IL-04 Gutierrez (D) 653,654 618,313 – 35,341
IL-01 Rush (D) 654,203 620,843 – 33,360
PA-12 Murtha (D) 646,419 617,797 – 28,622
NY-27 Higgins (D) 654,200 627,105 – 27,095
MO-01 Clay (D) 621,497 594,535 – 26,962
MI-05 Kildee (D) 662,584 636,803 – 25,781
OH-17 Ryan (D) 630,316 604,607 – 25,709
IN-07 Carson (D) 675,804 650,746 – 25,058
IL-07 D. Davis (D) 653,521 629,923 – 23,598
MN-05 Ellison (D) 614,874 591,467 – 23,407
IL-02 J. Jackson (D) 654,078 630,933 – 23,145
IL-17 Hare (D) 653,531 630,745 – 22,786

No surprise here in terms of change: the Katrina-ravaged LA-02 is still the biggest loser of population (although it’s currently a very fast growing district, as it gradually repopulates). Detroit and Cleveland, though, are depopulating as a result of their own disasters (economic in this case), and MI-13 and OH-11 both nose ahead of the former #2, Pittsburgh’s PA-14. Near the bottom of the list, the dwindling IL-01, PA-12, MI-05, IN-07, and IL-02 move on, while CA-09, KS-01, PA-05, CA-53, and MA-08 arrest their decline a bit and move off the list.

My observations remain much the same as last year: the David Brookses of the world would look at the sheer number of exurban red districts in the fast-growing column and the number of urban blue districts in the shrinking column, and point to hundreds of years of Republican dominance as urbanites are pulling away from the teat of the welfare state and moving out to the exurbs to make a fresh start as Patio Man and Realtor Mom.

Not exactly: as the suburbs start to spread outward into these districts, bringing their annoying diversity, density, and workaday problems with them, these red districts are, for the most part, becoming Democratic. Just for a few examples, consider CA-25, which went from 59-40 for Bush to 49-48 for Obama, or NC-09, which went from 63-36 for Bush to 55-45 for McCain. In addition — as we’ll see in the next installment, where we’ll focus on changes in race — immigrants are often making the suburbs their first destination, quickly changing the complexion of the outer rings around many cities.

Some of you may be wondering, “Well, wouldn’t change by percentage instead of by raw numbers be more interesting?” In this case, it barely makes a difference in terms of ranking, because we’re starting from essentially the same baseline everywhere in 2000 (generally around 660,000). The most noteworthy exception is UT-03, which is lower down the list of gainers (13th) when ordered by percentage because Utah districts started out large.

Another way of looking at this question that isn’t quite so interesting is: what are the most (and least populous) districts? Most of the lists are completely the same, but there are some oddball picks in there, districts that simply started out very big (MT-AL) or very small (WY-AL). The top 10 most populous, by 2008 numbers, are: AZ-02, UT-03, MT-AL, NV-03, AZ-06, TX-10, FL-05, GA-07, UT-01, and UT-02. The 10 least populous are: LA-02, RI-01, RI-02, WY-AL, OH-11, NE-03, MI-13, IA-05, PA-14, and WV-03. (These suggest that, come 2020, we may be looking at Rhode Island dropping to a single district and Nebraska and West Virginia dropping to two each.)

Finally, here’s one other way of slicing and dicing the numbers that’s worth a look: the population change between 2007 and 2008. I was expecting to see a lot of people fleeing the worst epicenters of economic collapse (the manufacturing problems of Detroit and Cleveland, the housing bubble-related problems of Phoenix, southern Florida, and California’s Central Valley), but I simply don’t see much of a pattern. More likely what happened is that the economic crisis really put a damper on overall mobility in the last year, as many demographers have suggested… and what we’re seeing is a lot of float within the margin of error (as, remember, the ACS is an estimate, and there’s a plus-or-minus of more than 10,000 on their population estimates).

Here are the biggest gainers over one year. As I hinted at, the fastest growing district is LA-02, although it’s still way off from its peak:


District Rep. 2007 2008 Change
LA-02 Cao (R) 395,592 469,262 73,670
UT-03 Chaffetz (R) 907,472 974,639 67,167
TX-10 McCaul (R) 898,647 955,363 56,716
AZ-02 Franks (R) 939,215 991,439 52,224
NY-01 T. Bishop (D) 667,336 713,084 45,748
CA-08 Pelosi (D) 621,146 664,963 43,817
TX-12 Granger (R) 770,083 813,561 43,478
CA-47 Lo. Sanchez (D) 617,224 657,705 40,481
CA-50 Bilbray (R) 708,288 747,880 39,592
CA-25 McKeon (R) 782,014 819,973 37,959

And here are the biggest losers. There are a lot of southern California districts here, but they tend to be either Hispanic-majority districts or comfortable, established areas (CA-46), rather than the stereotypical instant exurbs of CA-44 and CA-45 where option ARMs got a new generation of homeowners into the balsa-wood-and-drywall duplexes of their dreams. Also, interestingly, rather than the canyons of empty condo towers along Florida’s Gold Coast, instead the leader is FL-21, a neighborhood of established middle-class Cubano suburbs west of Miami.


District Rep. 2007 2008 Change
FL-21 L. Diaz-Balart (R) 707,168 670,760 – 36,408
CA-39 Li. Sanchez (D) 669,981 635,955 – 34,026
TX-07 Culberson (R) 782,163 751,034 – 31,129
MA-09 Lynch (D) 668,799 639,053 – 29,746
CA-18 Cardoza (D) 714,167 686,109 – 28,058
FL-03 C. Brown (D) 668,709 642,194 – 26,515
CA-13 Stark (D) 672,300 647,397 – 24,903
CA-38 Napolitano (D) 653,733 629,942 – 23,791
CA-46 Rohrabacher (R) 655,857 632,809 – 23,048
NJ-06 Pallone (D) 673,587 650,895 – 22,692

22 thoughts on “Population Change by Congressional District, 2008”

  1. I wonder if the huge disparity in district sizes would argue for redistricting that is more frequent than every decade. Conceivably there might even be a one person, one vote argument to be made. As for reapportionment, though, the Constitution is pretty clear that that only happens every ten years.

    Love the BoBo Brooks line, btw.

  2. Is my congressional district and I’m not surprised that it gained so many people. The suburbs in Wake County, espescially Cary, continue to explode in population, mostly from the thousands of transplants that arrive each week in the Triangle. The suburbs in Wake County are kind of a mixed bag in terms of Democratic/Republican performance. For instance we have two suburban Cary-area school board seats up tomorrow and they are looking very competitive. But Obama did much better in the suburbs than previous candidates, and Raleigh as a whole is very progressive. I’m still not sure if we’ll get a 14th district though, and if we did, I think it would be a heavily-GOP district designed to help shore up McIntyre, Kissell, and Etheridge. I don’t think they would dismantle Mel Watt’s district to create a Democratic Triad district as some on here have suggested. What do you guys think?

  3. “Americans don’t want Dimmitcrats as their congressmen or (even worse), minorities are slowly (yeah…you gotta give them time) realizing that living under Demon-crat socialism welfare-ism (any other -isms out there?) ain’t that sweet a liberal gravy train, is it?”

    Grandmaster Beck was right “We surround them now!”

  4. My observations remain much the same as last year: the David Brookses of the world would look at the sheer number of exurban red districts in the fast-growing column and the number of urban blue districts in the shrinking column, and point to hundreds of years of Republican dominance as urbanites are pulling away from the teat of the welfare state and moving out to the exurbs to make a fresh start as Patio Man and Realtor Mom.

    Not exactly: as the suburbs start to spread outward into these districts, bringing their annoying diversity, density, and workaday problems with them, these red districts are, for the most part, becoming Democratic. Just for a few examples, consider CA-25, which went from 59-40 for Bush to 49-48 for Obama, or NC-09, which went from 63-36 for Bush to 55-45 for McCain. In addition — as we’ll see in the next installment, where we’ll focus on changes in race — immigrants are often making the suburbs their first destination, quickly changing the complexion of the outer rings around many cities.

    I served as a field coordinator with the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund in CA-11 during the 2006 midterm election. CA-11 straddles the eastern edge of the Bay Area and much of San Joaquin County, which is mostly farmland. People wrote off McNerney as unable to make a dent in San Joaquin County because it was “too conservative.”

    What really happened was people moving out of the cities and setting up shop in Tracy (Pombo’s hometown and base) and the surrounding areas.

    Pombo ended up barely winning San Joaquin County and when word of that news got to us, we knew it was over, because we ran up the score in Alameda County (McNerney’s base county) and further south in Santa Clara County and took the moderate Contra Costa County, which include upper-middle class and higher tax brackets.

    This change in population isn’t a “white flight” of years prior. It is liberal expansion into the exurbs.

  5. Looking at the list of districts that have lost the most population from 2000 to 2008, it is striking that 14  of the top 25 are minority-majority districts (and an additional 2 are white majority districts represented by African-American Congressmen — IN-7 and MN-5).  And of the 10 districts that lost the most population from 2007 to 2008, an additional 5 are minority-majority districts.  

    This means that one of the challenges of re-districting will be the need to draw lines preserving these VRA districts. While it is certainly possible to do creative re-districting in places where Democrats control the process and add chunks of Republican territory to these districts, in most cases it will require the absorption of surrounding territory including suburbs that have become increasingly diverse in order to preserve the minority-majority status of the district. In places where Republicans control redistricting, this will offer them the opportunity to further cram minority/Democratic votes into overwhelmingly Democratic seats, allowing greater efficiency of Republican voters in remaining seats.

    Especially in states that may lose seats (IL, LA, MI, OH, PA) this could present difficulties in drawing lines that preserve other white-majority Democratic seats – perhaps removing chunks of African-American or Latino voters from these districts, perhaps forcing some of those districts out into less diverse ex-urban areas. While these areas are trending Democratic, they will still make many of these seats much more marginal.

    It will be interesting to see if these possible losses will be offset by possible addition of minority-majority seats, especially Latino seats in places like AZ, TX and central FL. (CA may lose seats overall, but internal population shifts probably will slightly increase the number of Latino majority seats there.)

    This points out the utter importance of the gubernatorial and state legislative elections in 2010  – especially  since whether we hold the governor’s office in places like OH, MI and PA  will help determine the make-up of Congress for the coming decade.  

  6. I would think people would have been leaving my distrixt due to the fact that home foreclosures are so high in the Riverside portion.

    What does this mean in terms of redistricting for ca-44?

  7. I still would like to see the size of the House increased.  You would think some of these states that continually see population losses or smaller ones that feel under-represented would bandy together to get more seats or keep the ones they have.

    New England, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Louisiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, The Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Hawaii.

    I know, I know, but it’s the Senate that over represents the smaller states.  I say increase both houses.  I like the idea from over at FiveThirtyEight:

    Indeed, the better idea would be to push for a constitutional amendment not to eliminate the Senate, or even to make it exactly like the House, but to at least move it closer toward more equipopulous representation. For example, if we added another 50 senate seats, to be redistributed based on population above and beyond the guaranteed two each state already receives, that would bring it in somewhat closer proportion. We could even set an upper limit so that no state has, say, more than five as well as none having fewer than two. That would actually go some distance, however partial, toward remedying the grotesque disparities of the Senate–and yet still give smaller states a disproportionate share of the seats relative to their population shares, just not as disproportionate.

    Of course, I realize that few U.S. senators, and probably no small-state senators, will want to propose such an amendment. (Likewise for state legislators from those states who would have to ratify it, barring the use of state conventions.) Such a proposal would thus likely require a constitutional convention.

    That raises an idea: If the town hall protesters want to redirect their energies elsewhere, maybe they can agitate for such an amendment. Many of them claim to believe in having everyone heard, and as it is now some people–smaller and more rural and whiter citizens, it should be said–are heard disproportionately in the halls of Congress, which in part explains why we can’t get health care reform in the damn first place.

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