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A Third Congressional Seat For Idaho? A New Report Says There's Still A Chance

U.S. Census Bureau

A new analysis finds there’s a bit of hope for Idaho to still gain a third congressional seat this decade due in part to the early deadline for the census.

The report from the American Statistical Association spells out just what’s at stake with the census scheduled to end Sept. 30, a month earlier than expected.

The Trump administration announced the decision in July, saying it needed the extra time to deliver census data to the president and Congress by the end of the year. That Sept. 30 deadline is still a moving target, though, pending a federal court case in California.

Idaho crushed its census efforts as the top-performing state in the country, but many are still scrambling to count their residents. More than a trillion dollars in federal money and the membership of Congress hangs in the balance.

Jonathan Auerbach, a co-author of the report, said it’s clear there are significant consequences that come with ending the census early.

“Failing to give an extra month leads to distortions and regardless of who wins and who loses, we really should be pushing for the fairest representation both in terms of funding and in terms of apportionment,” Auerbach said.

Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas are poised to lose out on $500 million each year in federal Medicaid money if the census ends early – money they were projected to receive if they were still working within the original deadline of Oct. 31 to count their residents.

Another one of those losers could be Montana, which has the sixth-lowest response rate in the country. It could miss out on a potential second congressional seat it had been projected to capture. Arizona and Florida face similar problems.

The report projects Ohio and California to be the most likely winners when it comes to gaining or retaining congressional representation under most of the scenarios analyzed.

But despite Idaho’s strong showing, its bid for a third House seat would only happen under one of the report’s three scenarios.

Auerbach said the chances are slim, but many Idahoans still might be hearing: “You’re telling me there’s a chance.”

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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