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Ohio Loses A Congressional Seat

U.S. Capital Building

Ohio will lose a seat in Congress according to data from the 2020 U.S. Census released on Monday.

Prompted by sluggish population growth, the loss of a U.S. House seat comes as the state embarks on a new system of drawing its congressional maps, which are considered among the most gerrymandered in the nation.

The Census Bureau announced Ohio remains one of the 10 most populous states, ranked seventh. But in a continuing trend of population shifting away from the Midwest, Ohio will lose a seat among the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, a number that was set in 1912 when Arizona and New Mexico became states.

The state has lost at least one Congressional seat in the last six U.S. Census counts going back to 1970, including two seats lost following the 1990 and 2010 Census.

Other states that will lose congressional seats in 2022 include California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Texas, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon will be gaining representatives in Congress.

Ohio native Kyle Kondik is at Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia finds the timing of the decision of a Democratic Congressman to join Ohio’s open US Senate race matches up with this Census announcement.

“If you gave Tim Ryan a truth serum, he probably would admit that part of the reason he's running for Senate is because his district won, frankly, isn't all that Democratic anymore, and too, is seems likely to be dismantled as part of this redistricting process," Kondik said.

The process to remake Ohio’s Congressional map from 16 districts to 15 will be done under new voter approved rulesstarting after August 16, when detailed mapable population data will be available from last year’s census.

Jen Miller heads the League of Women Voters of Ohio, which was part of the group that fought for the ballot issue to change the map-drawing method. Miller said there are a lot of things that could be done right away to get ready for that.

“There are four members of the redistricting commission who have not yet been named – we could name those. We could get legislative caucuses the funding they need to start hiring experts and doing research," Miller said. "We can have public hearings on the technical details. We could set up the website that Ohioans could then use to follow the redistricting process and even submit their own map.”

And there may be a need to set a new timeline for when potential candidates would turn in paperwork and maybe even a new date for next year’s Congressional primary because the data is coming in later than usual.

Those new voter-approved rules are intended to bring more transparency and minority party buy in into the process, and to stop another creation like the current map, which some critics call among the most gerrymandered and partisan in the country.

But Republicans still dominate in state government, and Kondik says Donald Trump’s win in Ohio by eight points in both 2016 and 2020 shows it’s unlikely the Congressional map will end up with an even red-blue split.

“I don't know what a ‘fair map’ in Ohio would look like, but I don't think it's one that would be evenly divided between the two parties, given the way the state has trended over the years," Kondik said.

"I guess the question is is, will the map just be like 12-3 Republican instead of 12-4 Republican? Or can the Republicans somehow get to 13-2 if they really try to ram through a map? Or will it be, you know, will the Republicans end up losing a little bit of ground because it's a less partisan process? I think there I think there are a lot of a lot of possible outcomes here.”

The Census Bureau said Ohio was close to keeping its 16th seat. It would be the 437th seat if the US House added two more members.

Nick Houser leads the digital media team and oversees all things digital, including wosu.org, digital content, the WOSU Public Media Mobile App, social media, enewsletters, podcasts and on-demand video.
Michael De Bonis develops and produces digital content including podcasts, videos, and news stories. He is also the editor of WOSU's award-winning Curious Cbus project. He moved to Columbus in 2012 to work as the producer of All Sides with Ann Fisher, the live news talk show on 89.7 NPR News.