Question: What do Arizona, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington, Tennessee and Maryland have in common?
Answer: They're all states that either matched or eclipsed Missouri in electoral clout yesterday.
That's right, Mizzourah. By dropping one electoral seat as a result of the new census data (and watching a handful of other mid-sized states pick up seats), we now have less or equal Congressional power than seven other states, as compared to last year. With only eight electoral seats in hand, we have our lowest federal delegation since 1850. One-hundred years ago, Missouri was the seventh-most populous state in the country.
Show-Me the pain.
The loss of a seat confirms a trend of American exodus out of the Northeast and Midwest, and into the southern and western portions of the country where air-conditioned summers are a good trade-off for frigid winters. Two of our neighbors, Illinois and Iowa, each lost a seat as well. In contrast, the fastest growing states are Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Texas and Utah (which bodes well for the Republican Party). The total population in the United States is now estimated to be 308,745,538.
Local pols weighed in with therapeutic consolation. "This is just the first step in a long process," assuaged Rep. Russ Carnahan in a statement. "My hope is that everyone involved is focused solely on making sure the map is drawn in a way that best serves the people and communities of Missouri. After all, you have to draw the lines according to where the people are."
The Missouri Congressional districts will have to be re-drawn by the state legislature, and Carnahan stands to be cannibalized by fellow St. Louis Democrat Rep. Lacy Clay, who will likely need to add population to his district, according to a Post-Dispatch analysis.
Gov. Jay Nixon used a bit of political sugar-coating when he released a statement leading with: "Today's census announcement confirms that Missouri is a growing state."
What he didn't mention is that the state's 7 percent growth rate over the last 10 years (a jump from 5,595,211 to 5,987,580) ranked just No. 29 in the country.
It should be noted, though, that our rise in population isn't too shabby compared with the 3.9 percent growth rate of the Midwest region as a whole.
Also on the bright side, early indicators show that St. Louis stands to follow the recent rising trend in population. We won't know the final headcount until early next year, but whatever the outcome, rest assured we're in for some aldermanic redistricting psychodrama. Stay tuned for that.