redistricting

2020 census begins! Decennial headcount starts in Alaska
Effort starts in remote villages before residents disperse for seasonal work in spring

U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham addresses state and Alaska Native leaders in Anchorage days before Tuesday’s first count of the 2020 census. (Mark Thiessen/AP)

By snowmobile and small plane, the 2020 census starts Tuesday in Alaska, facing the same language barriers and government trust issues that will make the count difficult on the U.S. mainland on top of actual physical obstacles like the rugged terrain where most of the state lies off the road system.

The geography of Toksook Bay, a fishing village on Alaska’s western coast that’s hosting the first count, shows the difficulty of counting the state’s residents. Many of the state’s villages, including Toksook Bay, can only be accessed by boat, plane or snowmobile. The effort starts in Alaska midwinter to count residents there before they disperse for seasonal work in the spring. 

Hoyer: House priorities for 2020 include health care, infrastructure, climate, redistricting
Legislative action also planned on appropriations, defense, education, housing, modernizing Congress

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer is outlining a busy legislative agenda for 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats in 2020 plan to pass legislation on top party priorities like health care, infrastructure and climate as well as more under-the-radar subjects like modernizing Congress and redistricting — all while trying to fully fund the government on time for the first time in 24 years, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said.

The No. 2 Democrat, who is in charge of the floor schedule, outlined his legislative priorities for the year in an interview with CQ Roll Call. The aforementioned issues were among a long list that Hoyer said Democrats plan to pursue in the second session of the 116th Congress. Others the Maryland Democrat mentioned include education, taxes, the annual defense and intelligence authorizations, and reauthorizations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and National Flood Insurance Program.

Reapportionment could force a Rhode Island showdown
Smallest state projected to lose a House seat after 2020

Rhode Island Reps. David Cicilline, left, and Jim Langevin may have to duke it in a primary in 2022 with their state projected to lose a seat after the next census. (Tom Williams/Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photos)

This year’s census will likely prompt a political showdown between longtime members of Congress in the nation’s smallest state.

An analysis based on Census Bureau population projections has Rhode Island losing its second congressional seat in 2022, one of 10 states that could lose representation in Congress. The projections show a tight margin for the last few congressional seats, according to an analysis from Election Data Services. The Ocean State stands 14,000 residents shy of the seat, or about 1 percent of its population.

Reapportionment after census could shake up swing districts
Latest Census Bureau estimates hint at which states may gain or lose seats

Will the New York district represented by Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi still exist after the 2020 census? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Candidates and political parties have started multimillion-dollar struggles for control of congressional districts that, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data, may not exist in two years.

The latest Census Bureau population estimates suggest that a handful of states, including Illinois, California and New York, may lose seats in Congress after the 2020 count. That could make victories in some of the hardest-fought congressional races fleeting, a rare occurrence in an institution that favors incumbents, as newly minted representatives find themselves out of a job just two years later.

Census estimates: Redistricting ahead for California, New York and Texas
Projections suggest AZ, CO, FL, MT, NC, OR and TX could gain seats

Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, speaks at a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Census Bureau gave a peek at a coming battle within states nationwide over the shape of the country’s congressional district map, with its latest population estimates hinting at fights within Texas, New York, California, Alabama and other states.

Those estimates give demographers and mapmakers the last hint of how the 2020 census will divvy up 435 congressional seats nationwide before the agency releases the official results later this year. The results will determine winners and losers for both the distribution of the districts as well as $1.5 trillion in federal funds each year.

At the Races: New year, same politics

By Bridget Bowman, Stephanie Akin and Simone Pathé 

Welcome to At the Races! Each week we’ll bring you news and analysis from the CQ Roll Call team that will keep you informed about the 2020 election. Know someone who’d like to get this newsletter? They can subscribe here.

House retirements already outpace average for past election cycles
Decisions by 27 lawmakers compares with average of 23 per election cycle, and more could be coming

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., is the latest member of the House to announce his retirement. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The number of House members deciding to retire has already exceeded the average for recent election cycles, and more could be coming as lawmakers return to the nation’s capital after the holidays.

Since 1976, an average of 23 House members have retired each two-year election cycle, according to CQ Roll Call elections analyst Nathan L. Gonzales, the publisher of Inside Elections. In 2019 alone, however, 27 House members announced they will retire, opting not to run for reelection nor for another office (these figures do not include lawmakers who have resigned or died while in office). 

Researchers warn census privacy efforts may muddy federal data
Latest test creates ‘absurd outcomes’: households with 90 people and graveyards populated with the living

Protesters hold signs at a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court after justices blocked the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Steps taken by the Census Bureau to protect individual responses may muddy cancer research, housing policy, transportation planning, legislative map-drawing and health care policy, researchers have warned the agency.

The problems come from a new policy — differential privacy — that adds “noise” to census data to help prevent outside attackers from identifying individuals among public data. However, the agency’s latest test of the policy created what researchers called absurd outcomes: households with 90 people and graveyards populated with the living. Such results could skew a count used to redistribute political power and $1.5 trillion in federal spending nationwide.

Ratings change: Van Drew going Republican tilts NJ race to GOP
Primary may still loom for freshman, who won district carried by Trump in ’16 and Obama in ’08 and ’12

New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who is preparing to switch parties from Democrat to Republican, reacts after drawing a disappointing number during the new member lottery draw for office space in Rayburn Building weeks after winning his seat in November 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As if impeachment wasn’t providing enough news, New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew has decided to switch parties. Even though it’s not quite official, more than half of his staff resigning should be a significant clue.

His decision changes the partisan makeup in the House by one seat without fundamentally altering the 2020 fight for the majority.

National Democratic groups litigate 2020 in the courts
Party committees are trying to expand the electorate by challenging state voting laws

DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos says some GOP state legislators were trying to “keep African Americans away from the ballot box.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

More than in previous election cycles, national Democratic groups are making litigation over election and voting laws a key part of their 2020 strategy. 

A handful of Democratic groups are currently litigating about a dozen cases over what they see as unfair election laws and maps across the country.