Ohio needed just 11,000 more people to keep its 16th congressional seat

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The U.S. Census Bureau on Monday announced that Ohio is one of seven states losing a seat in the House of Representatives next year, as population growth in the South and West outpaced the Rust Belt.

Since federal law fixes the House at 435 members, states jockey for those seats every 10 years. The higher a state’s share of the national population, the more seats it gets. Ohio grew at a slower rate than 44 other states since 2010, so it lost a congressional seat – going from 16 down to 15.

The bureau apportions seats with a formula that ranks them starting at 51 (since all 50 states are guaranteed one seat). These rankings, based on the results of the formula – called “priority values” – are doled out to states and cut off at 435.

Minnesota grabbed seat No. 435 to avoid losing one of its eight congressional districts. The Census Bureau published the next 10 states that fell short of another seat. Right behind Minnesota were New York at 436 and Ohio at 437.

RankStateSeatPriority Value
435.Minnesota8762,997.7052660
436.New York27762,994.3528429
437.Ohio16762,257.8606982
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Census officials said Monday that New York was just 89 people away from beating Minnesota for that final seat.

Running the same calculation with the bureau’s formula, NBC4 found that Ohio needed 11,462 more people to get the final seat. Ohio’s math is below for reference:

$$V = {P \over \sqrt{n(n-1)}}$$

V = priority value

P = apportionment population

n = state’s number of seats if gained that seat

$$762,257.8606982 = {11,808,848 \over \sqrt{16(16-1)}}$$

The lowest population Ohio needed to have to beat Minnesota’s priority value of 762,997.7052660 was 11,820,310.

$$762,997.7296168 = {11,820,310 \over \sqrt{16(16-1)}}$$

$$11,820,310 – 11,808,848$$

$$=11,462$$

This means if Ohio had gained just 11,462 more in population over the past decade – fewer than 1,200 per year — the state would still have the 16 congressional seats and 18 electoral college votes (House seats plus two Senate seats) it has had since 2010.

And although Ohio’s 11,462 is much larger than New York’s 89, it is still less than the population of any of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Ohio could not have made up the 11,462 people with people who did not fill out the census. Response rates for every state but Louisiana were at least 99.9%, and 0.1% of Ohio’s apportionment population (stateside residents plus residents overseas) is still less than 11,462.

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