By JAKE ZUCKERMAN
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Census data released Wednesday show West Virginia’s population continues to wane, posing a threat to one of three of its congressional seats.
According to information from the U.S. Census Bureau, West Virginia’s population, as of July 1, is 1.815 million, down by 0.7 percent from 1.828 million in 2016.
A report from Election Data Services, based on the same census data, says this decline, compared with the rest of the United States, substantiates years of speculation that West Virginia will lose one of its three congressional seats by 2022, after the decennial census in 2020.
“What that congressman is likely to see is that his house is going to be put into one of those two districts,” said Kimball Brace, president of EDS. “So then the question he would have, is, ‘Do I run against the other guy?’ ‘Do I retire?’ ”
According to EDS’ projections, West Virginia will join the likes of Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, all of which have seats that could be under threat by 2022.
Those seats would be reapportioned to Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon and Texas that are all growing, per census data.
For West Virginia to keep its seat, it would need to draw about 19,500 new residents by the time the 2020 census is taken, assuming the population of all other states holds steady.
Brace said following the downward trickle, it’s unlikely for the state to reverse the trend.
“West Virginia has kind of been on the bubble for a while, so the issue is, is there any potential chance of them gaining that seat back? I’m not certain that would be the case,” he said. “Basically, everything is pointing toward what would appear to be less growth in West Virginia than elsewhere, therefore moving further and further away from that magic 435 mark.”
There are 435 voting members in the House of Representatives.
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