On Tuesday, U.S. Census Bureau officials will unveil numbers that will determine which states gain House seats and which states lose them in the once-a-decade reapportionment of congressional districts--and in the process launch a high-stakes political round of musical chairs.
For the next year, powerful members of Congress will be nervously consulting computerized maps and wooing their political juniors in state legislatures in hopes of guaranteeing that their districts are not drawn out from under them.
The census verdict could alter a number of congressional careers--and not just those of newly elected (and therefore vulnerable) freshmen such as Republicans Ann Marie Buerkle, Richard Hanna, and Tom Reed of New York. It will also affect lawmakers with well-known names: GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota could find her constituency substantially changed; the district represented by veteran lawmaker James Clyburn of South Carolina, the third-ranking House Democratic leader, conceivably could be split to create two majority-black constituencies.
Among the states, many of the winners and losers are already known based on preliminary census figures. An estimated 12 House seats are expected to move among 18 states. Those certain to be shorted a seat: Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Sure bets to gain congressional clout: Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington.
But a number of states are "on the bubble." Some are awaiting the census numbers to find out whether they'll gain a congressional seat, as North Carolina hopes to do, or lose a seat, as Illinois fears it will. Others, such as Florida, New York, and Texas, are looking to learn if their gains or losses will be greater than one.
With the advent of DIY redistricting and the help of freeware provided by Dave Bradlee, a West Coast-based software engineer and political junkie, it's possible to map out what some of the numbers might mean and how they might alter the face of Congress for the next decade.
View the maps and a full analysis of the political lay of the land in the 10 on-the-bubble states by clicking the links below.
On the bubble