by Bill Wilson
For years, Americans who believe in limited government and putting the American people first have had to watch as states like California, New York, and Illinois have turned their cities into dystopian hellscapes and sent unhinged politicians to Washington DC to inflict their policies on the rest of the nation.
But something very interesting has been happening over the past decade and this trend is only accelerating – the most left-wing states are slowly losing power as their populations decrease and residents move elsewhere. California, New York, Illinois, and others are losing population as residents move to friendlier and freer states. What this translates into is a mathematical solution to leftism and centralized government control.
As states lose people, they lose political power in Congress, and there is nothing they can do about it because of the way the Constitution allots Congressional seats based on population.
California, the state with the most Congressional representation because of its giant population, is already feeling the impact of population decline on its political capital. The coastal state lost one of its seats in the U.S. House after the 2020 census found it lost too many residents to maintain 53 seats.
This was the first time in California’s 171-year history that the state lost political power due to residents fleeing the state instead of flocking to it, but it likely isn’t the last. A detailed analysis from Decision Desk HQ estimates if Cali’s population trends keep falling, the state will lose five more Congressional seats after the 2030 Census.
California has been losing people to other states at approximately 0.3% a year which doesn’t sound like much, but California is a big state. That 0.3% a year migration loss translated to 343,270 residents exiting the state between 2021 and 2022 according to Census estimates.
This not only blunts Cali’s power in Congress, but it dampens Democrats’ chances in Presidential elections too. California has an outsized impact on the presidency, since Electoral votes are also based on population, or on existing House and Senate seats. In the next Presidential election California holds 54 Electoral votes, the most of any state followed by Texas which holds 40 Electoral votes. However, with California’s population dwindling, the state will likely lose more Electoral votes in future apportionment cycles.
This diminishment of power for liberal states like California who run their budgets into the ground and lock their citizens inside high-tax, low-freedom, crime-ridden hell zones is not happening overnight, but it is happening. Politics is just physics, and any action will always have an equal and opposite reaction.
With the exceptions of West Virginia and Ohio which have experienced population declines due to economic issues, the states losing population at the highest clip are left-wing states. Illinois, California, and New York all lost Congressional seats after the 2020 census. States that gained population and political power are mostly red states including Texas, Montana, Florida, and North Carolina.
Illinois presents a particularly compelling case, because unlike California Illinois has been steadily losing population – and power – for decades. Illinois lost one Congressional seat this January due to population loss, but Illinois has lost at least one member of Congress after each Census for the past 40 years. Illinois will also lose one electoral vote in the 2024 election, further weakening its grip on the rest of the country.
How about New York? New Yorkers are fleeing the state at almost a one-percent annual rate, and that translates into a loss of nearly 300,000 people between 2021 and 2022. As a result of population loss after the 2020 census, New York came just 89 residents short of securing all its Congressional Districts and lost one seat, showing just how razor-thin the margins can be.
According to the American Redistricting Project’s estimates if population declines continue on the same trajectory as they have for the past decade, California will lose five Congressional seats in 2030, Illinois will lose two seats, and New York will lose three seats. States that will gain seats if they continue attracting new residents include Idaho (+1), Utah (+1), Texas (+4) and Florida (+4).
While a red state earning a new Congressional seat due to inward migration doesn’t automatically mean that seat will be filled by a conservative, the chances are a whole lot better since new residents will melt into an ingrained culture. Patriots will still need to make their case for limited government and America First principles and continue fighting to keep their Congressional districts conservative and well-run. However, because what goes around comes around in politics, draconian-left-wing policies are finally having a tangible impact on people’s willingness to stick around, and that is translating into a loss of power for the left. Conservatives need to do everything in their power to hang onto their House seats until 2030 and integrate new residents to red states.
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Bill Wilson is the former president of Americans for Limited Government.