Shrinking RI on track to lose a congressional seat after 2020

Rhode Island is going to need a pretty sizable reversal in its ongoing population decline if the state wants to avoid losing one of its two congressional seats following the next U.S. Census in 2020.

“For 80 years, tiny Rhode Island has stubbornly remained at two House seats and four electoral votes,” Politico’s Charlie Mahtesian wrote after new population estimates were released last week. “But it’s on a path to lose a seat and join the ranks of the states with a single at-large seat.”

Right now the states with one at-large U.S. House seat are South Dakota, North Dakota, Vermont, Alaska, Delaware, Wyoming and Montana.

Rhode Island has had at least two U.S. House seats since 1793, and from 1913 to 1933 the state briefly had three. Downsizing to an at-large seat starting in 2022 would shift the dynamic in Rhode Island’s congressional delegation, since all three members of Congress – the two U.S. senators and one House lawmaker – will represent the whole state. It could also make it even harder for Republicans to win federal office.

Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics ran the numbers under two scenarios and in both cases projected that Rhode Island wouldn’t even be a runner-up for an additional seat after 2020. Last year, Nate Silver calculated that Rhode Island had the second- and third-smallest House districts in the nation.

Another option: Rhode Island could push to expand the size of the U.S. House. More seats for everyone!

• Related: Start getting ready for a Cicilline vs. Langevin race (March 24, 2011)

13 thoughts on “Shrinking RI on track to lose a congressional seat after 2020

  1. Since we’ve capped the size of the House, how would re-apportionment work if say, Puerto Rico or DC were to become states before the 2020 census? We wouldn’t add seats for them, we’d have to take the seats they get from other existing states, but not at the 10 year mark when we usually do. Sounds like a recipe for chaos.

  2. Attention Jef Nickerson – You could add a seat or two, perhaps temporarily. I think something like that was done for Alaska and Hawaii.

  3. If the state would stop taxing everyone to death and bring in actual good paying jobs, the state would stop loosing citizens. This is the main reasons i want to take my kids and myself elsewhere. My Children have no future in this state, so you must move them to give them a chance for a good future.

    P.S. The people must stop calling the christmas tree at the state capitol a “Holiday tree”. I chaffee does not get re-elected, he is doing nothing but ruining this state.

    • I agree but I don’t want people who were raised in Rhode Island polluting the rest of the country with their poor judgment and unethical behavior. I moved here in 2000 and regret it everyday. I am waiting to sell my house and get the hell out of this third world state.

      • Rich, I’ve lived her my entire life and you are 1000% correct, except perhaps you left out the prevailing entitlement mentality in RI. There are some of us with drive, intelligence, ethics and good judgement, but sadly we are a tiny minority. Most people in this sewer if they had half a brain they would take it out and play with it then file for a disability pension. I’m going to get out of here too, just getting my ducks in row before I hit the road. Good luck.

  4. This is a sad state. It is so beautiful but it has been ruined by corrupt politicians and people in State government. There are no jobs that pay. The houses are too expensive. and the people who stay here keep thinking gambling is going to save this state. So they vote to expand the casinos and add tables but all that does is create more state jobs and more corruption. I tell all young people under 30 to leave the state and see how beautiful and less corrupt other states are. I do plan to leave when I reach retirement age.

    • Good post Manny, right on. I still live in RI, but luckily in a position to take advantage of jobs in other states by working in consulting. The only choices to make good money in RI is to either pack up and move, commute to Mass or work in a job like consulting that depends on the prosperity of other states. The corrupt politicians and their public employee union supporters will never release their strangle hold on this state so it will continue to flush itself down the sewer.

  5. The cap is an artificial cap, so really, Congress can just add or remove seats as it desires; it sets its size. The 435 number is a result of nativist and prohibitionist policies. But it’s one of those customs that’s been enshrined as “how it always was”, meaning it’ll be a tough nut to crack or change.

    So, yes, it’s a bit self-serving, but definitely, pushing for an increase in House seats is a decent idea; and it’s not like it’d be a particularly Dem vs. GOP issue; the lead on this tends to be Wyoming’s rep who has to drive all across the state to meet constituents.

    Puerto Rico’s possible addition is likely to throw all sorts of wrenches into the system. Depending on which party controls the House (likely to be the GOP due to redistricting), I’d predict they’re more likely to use it to damage the other party; so if the GOP controls the House, they’ll knock off RI’s second district and any other Ds they can. If the Dems control it, I’d assume they’d be more likely to attempt to add “permanent” seats to the House, increasing their majority rather than weakening it.

  6. Most rational people understand WHY the state is losing population — lack of job opportunities caused by the corrupt liberal General Assembly that controls, taxes and regulates the state like a Mafia organization.

    Yet, government insiders and their beneficiaries outvote the rational folks every time. RI may have to collapse before reform is even possible.

  7. With no economy, increasing taxes and other fees, Rhode Island is on the fast track to losing the seat. Perhaps this is the casualtiy of a one party state – the General Assembly would have to take responsibility for the population – they have not done anything to reverse it. Rhode Island is known as the “black sheep” of the New England states for its corruption. We have failed leadership and they have turned RI into a nanny state.

  8. If it weren’t for the fact that we have a dimwitted/master-lever electorate,
    this change should help rather than hinder Rpublican candidates. Can’t we all
    understand why we’re losing residents? We live in what is effectively a one-party state with legislators and leadership that just don’t get it!

  9. I’d need to test with you here. Which is not one thing I normally do! I take pleasure in reading a submit that may make people think. Also, thanks for permitting me to remark!

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