Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Florida picks up two House seats, equals NY

Our Washington bureau reporter Lesley Clark filed this report today:

WASHINGTON … Florida just picked up two new seats in the U.S. House, making it the biggest swing prize in the race for the White House.

The new seats -- announced by the U.S. Census Bureau -- give Florida equal standing with New York -- and only California and Texas will have more electoral college votes -- though neither state is considered up for grabs like Florida.

The boost is expected to help Republicans -- who already control 2/3 of the seats in the state -- but some say privately the party could have a tough time carving out two new seats without jeopardizing incumbents.

The bureau in February will release population and race breakdowns down to the neighborhood level for states to begin redrawing the congressional boundaries. Florida's redistricting will be complicated this time around by two voter-approved state constitutional amendments that create strict rules for how politicians can draw district maps.

The addition of two seats brings the state's total number in the U.S. House of Representatives to 27 and boosts its Electoral College votes to 29 (the state's two senators are included in that math).

The boost in Florida's population comes as part of a broad population migration … and power shift … with Sun Belt states like Florida, Georgia, Arizona and Texas picking up seats that are being lost in declining Northern states, including Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Texas was the biggest winner in the census, picking up four new seats; Ohio and New York each lost two.

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