Montana Could Make History After 2020 Reapportionment
No state’s U.S. House delegation has ever increased from a single, at-large representative to multiple members after two censuses
New 2017 population estimates released from the U.S. Census Bureau last week indicate that the nation’s sharp increases in population in the Western region of the country could produce a first after 2020’s reapportionment.
Depending on which population model is used, Montana is on the cusp of adding a seat to its U.S. House delegation.
That would bring the Treasure State a second U.S. Representative after having only a single at-large member since 1993.
It would also make Montana the first state to see its delegation increase from a single, at-large member to two or more representatives for a second time.
Montana was represented by one member in the nation’s lower legislative chamber after statehood in 1889 and would remain at that level until the 13th Census in 1910.
From the 63rd Congress (1913-1914) through the 102nd Congress (1991-1992), Montanans would be represented by two U.S. Representatives – returning to a single member for the last quarter-century since the 103rd Congress in 1993.
Montana is the most recent state to join (or return to) the at-large club along with Alaska, Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.
Since the convening of the 1st Congress 228 years ago, a total of 29 states have been awarded just one at-large U.S. Representative at some point since statehood – the aforementioned seven states plus Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington. [A single at-large seat was frequently, but not always, awarded to states that achieved statehood mid-decade after a given Census].
- Two states have never had more than one U.S. Representative in the House: Alaska and Wyoming
- Three states began with a single-member delegation, increased to two or more, but now currently have just one representative again: Delaware, Montana, North Dakota
- Two states began with multiple representatives and later fell to just one: South Dakota (in 1983) and Vermont (in 1933)
- 22 states started out with a single-member delegation and eventually reached two or more – never returning to a single representative: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington
Montana was estimated to have a population of 1,038,656 residents as of July 1, 2017 according to the Census Bureau.
That marks a 6.2 percent rise from the 989,415 residents recorded for the 2010 Census – the 16th highest rate of increase in the nation during that period.
Western states account for six of the Top 10 highest rates of population increase (Utah at #3 with 12.2 percent, Colorado at #5 with 11.5 percent, Nevada #6 with 11.0 percent, Washington at #7 with 10.1 percent, Arizona at #8 with 9.8 percent, and Idaho with #9 at 9.5 percent) as well as nine of the Top 20 (Oregon at #11 with 8.1 percent, Montana at #16 with 6.2 percent, and California at #17 with 6.1 percent).
Texas leads the way with a 12.6 percent rise in population since the 2010 Census with North Dakota second at 12.3 percent.
Note: Montana had the nation’s 12th highest population increase over the last year (1.14 percent). If that relative rate of increase continues through 2020, it is likely the state will receive a second U.S. House seat for the 119th Congress beginning in 2023.
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The (would-be) gain by the Treasure State will likely come at the expense of the Ocean State (the former with 1M+ people now, as noted above, and the latter’s Providence & East seat presumed to have the least numbers of residents of any seat in the nation currently). Presuming the relative rate of population rise is sustained through late winter and spring of 2020 (i.e. conclusion of the once-a-decade census period) the physically smallest state seems a sure bet to join DE and ND as members of the “1 then 2+ then back to 1AL” club, even as the fourth-largest state achieves the unprecedented demographic/political feat. Condolences(?) and congratulations come 2021/22.