Apr 27, 2021 - News

Colorado gains political clout with new census numbers

Change in House seats following 2020 Census
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Colorado's population surged in the past decade to 5.8 million — a 15% increase that awards the state an eighth congressional seat, according to new census numbers.

Why it matters: The additional district means more political power in Washington — a larger House delegation and 10 votes in the Electoral College.

By the numbers: Colorado is now the 21st-largest state in the nation, up from 22nd.

  • Its population is estimated at 5,773,714. That growth ranks 6th-highest in the nation by percentage increase.
Colorado population over time
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Between the lines: The official word amplifies the current debate about how to draw the state's new congressional and legislative districts in the reapportionment process.

  • For the first time, the new independent redistricting commissions will start from scratch in building the maps, rather than using the current districts as guides.
  • The new district is expected to shuffle the state's political picture.

What they're saying: "This will unleash a tsunami of pent-up political ambition," Craig Hughes, a Democratic strategist, told Axios.

  • "The eighth seat is a complete rejiggering of how we look at our politics," added Tyler Sandberg, a Republican consultant.

The state of play: Colorado’s growth arrived mostly in the Denver metro area — an increasingly blue hub that suggests the new seat could favor Democrats.

  • But it remains too early to know for sure which party will benefit. Republicans believe the independent commissions will draw districts that give them a fighting chance, rather than the 2010 maps that favored Democrats.

Be smart: Colorado last added a seat in the 2000 census. The 7th district in the western Denver suburbs started with a Republican representative but now is reliably Democratic.

The big picture: Colorado is one of six states to gain at least one seat. It reflects the 9.2% population growth in the West, second only to the South.

  • The shift means five states that voted for President Biden will lose seats in the House compared to two states that supported former President Trump, Axios' Stef Kight reports.

What's next: The timing to draw the Colorado maps remains uncertain. The detailed census data won't be available until Sept. 30 — after the deadlines for the new districts. Colorado lawmakers are scrambling to find a solution.


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