DENVER – Colorado will, as expected, get an eighth congressional seat that will be up for election in 2022 after population increases over the last decade, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Monday.
The apportionment population, which also includes federal employees and their dependents living overseas who list Colorado as their home state, was 5,782,171 – up from 5,044,930 in 2010 – for an apportionment population growth of 14.6%.
“It’s exciting to see. We’ve been waiting forever for these numbers,” said Elizabeth Garner, Colorado’s state demographer.
The overall population data was supposed to be released by the end of 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID pandemic and lawsuits filed by the Trump Administration over including undocumented immigrants in the population count.
Colorado is one of six states that will add congressional districts for the 2022 election whose representatives will take office in 2023. In the West, Colorado, Montana and Oregon will all add one seat. Florida and North Carolina will also add a single seat, while Texas will gain two seats.
California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia will all lose one seat. Census officials said New York was 89 people short of keeping its district.
The U.S. House of Representatives is comprised of 435 representatives apportioned out by state population, meaning quicker-growing states could gain a seat from states that are seeing their populations fall.
This will be the first time since 2000, when Colorado’s apportionment population grew to 4.31 million, in which Colorado will add another congressional seat.
“I think the allocation of a new seat to the state of Colorado is potentially very important and could produce some of those meaningful benefits to the state either economically or in terms of policy,” said Michael Berry, an associate professor of political science at the University of Colorado Denver. “It will give Colorado more voice in the House of Representatives.”
While the U.S. as a whole experienced its second-slowest growth rate over a decade ever of 7.4% – barely topping the 7.3% population growth seen between 1930 and 1940 – Colorado was among the fastest growing states. The U.S. population as of 2020 was 331,449,281 people, the Census Bureau said.
Neighboring Utah saw the most population growth (18.4%) over the past decade. Wyoming remains the least-populated U.S. state, with 576,851 residents.
The Census data also revealed that with the population growth here in Colorado, each congressperson will now be responsible for representing 761,169 people, which is an increase of roughly 50,000 from the previous decade.
“The most important thing to understand is it’s representation, it’s money and it’s understanding,” Garner said, “These new numbers will be used for federal funding allocation. And likewise, what people forget to remember is that we also use it in the state for state allocation of dollars.”
Jessika Shipley, the staff director of the Colorado Independent Redistricting Committee, is now working to determine what the new totals mean for state House and Senate districts in terms of representation since each district needs to be roughly the same population size.
Now comes the question of exactly where Colorado’s future 8th Congressional District will be located.
While the overall population data was able to confirm what many were suspecting for some time, there are still a lot of unknowns.
“We don’t know where our population growth was necessarily, which part of the state. You can kind of guess based on some estimates that have come out, but at this point we don’t know. So, we can’t actually re-draw the districts until we get that real data,” said Shipley.
The breakdown of where the growth occurred — down to the block level, racial and gender makeup, age ranges and more — was supposed to be released on April 1 but was also delayed.
The new anticipated release date for that data is Aug. 16.
The Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission, an independent panel, has been meeting for weeks to redraw the state’s congressional district map and has until December to finish despite receiving delayed data this year which still has some deadlines up in the air.
The commission removed its then-chair Danny Moore in early April over social media posts that contained election conspiracy theories, but Moore was allowed to remain on the commission. The commission is also seeking to hire outside legal counsel and was meeting Monday afternoon just after the announcement.
Colorado’s current seven-member congressional delegation is comprised of four Democrats and three Republicans, and the biggest question is now how the districts will be redrawn in a state that is seeing a large urban-rural divide.
Breaking up the current 3rd Congressional District, currently represented by Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert and which covers most of western Colorado and parts of southern Colorado, has been one of the proposed ideas.
But All On The Line, a group that is affiliated with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, issued a statement from its director saying it believes the new congressional district should be located in the Front Range urban corridor.
“The Census data is in and Colorado’s clout will grow in our nation’s capital,” Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Due to population increases because Colorado is the greatest place to live, Colorado will get to elect 8 members of Congress next year, one more than we currently have. Look out Washington DC, another Coloradan will soon be on the way to help make the United States of America an even better country!”
This is a developing news story and will be updated.