Rhode Island’s surprise population gain in 2020, which allowed the state to retain two seats in Congress, may not have happened after all, according to new estimates from the US Census Bureau.
Instead of adding 44,000 new residents from 2010 to 2020, Rhode Island is more likely to have lost 10,500 residents over the decade, the Census Bureau’s post-count survey estimate report shows this.
Rhode Island was one of eight states the Census Bureau now believes was overstated in the decennial population count used to allocate political representation, draw district boundaries and distribute federal aid.
The estimated 5.05% overcoverage of the Ocean State’s population was the third highest in the nation.
Other states with statistically significant estimated population overcounts were Hawaii (6.79% overcount), Delaware (5.45%), Minnesota (3.84%), New York (3.44%), Utah (2.59%), Massachusetts (2.24%) and Ohio (1.49%).
The census estimates that six states had significant undercounts: Arkansas (5.04%), Tennessee (4.78%), Mississippi (4.11%), Florida (3.48%), Illinois (1.97 %) and Texas (1.92%).
The 2020 census determined that Rhode Island had a population of 1,097,379 on April 1 of that year. Reducing that total by 5.05% would bring the state’s population to 1,041,962 people.
But a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court ruling says postcensal sampling and estimates cannot be used to change the number of congressional seats a state has received after the fact, so the Rhode Island’s 2nd District will remain intact.
Or, as Common Cause Rhode Island executive director John Marion Jr. tweeted, there’s “no breakdown change.”
Census overcounts and undercounts
The new Census Bureau report does not provide specific theories or explanations as to what caused a state to overcount or undercount residents.
But he estimates how much of the error is likely due to counting people twice or assigning people to the wrong state, versus failing to count people entirely.
It says Rhode Island’s duplicate rate was slightly higher than the national average, while its omission rate was lower than the national average.
“Today’s release from the Census Bureau tells us that Rhode Island had one of the largest overcounts in the 2020 census and that overcount likely helped us retain our second seat in Congress,” Marion wrote. , who was a member of the state’s Complete Count Committee. an email. “While we don’t know why the overcount occurred, it may have been partly the result of vigorous efforts by community groups to encourage participation. Several of the other states with overcounts, including New York and Minnesota, also had robust community outreach programs.”
Redistricting experts estimate that Rhode Island retained its 2nd congressional district seat by about 19,000 people.
Northern states experienced more overcounts and southern states more undercounts.
Many redundant states, including Rhode Island, spent money and resources dedicated to counting residents while many undercounted states did not. Rhode Island has raised $1.6 million for its 2020 census “full count” effort.
The Census Bureau is overseen by Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, who was Governor of Rhode Island as of April 2020.
While most Rhode Island elected officials are likely happy with the actual census result, regardless of how the state got there, the Republican Party is not.
“This is terrible. Rhode Island’s aggressive census tactics have led to the equivalent of double counting more than the entire population of the city of East Providence,” said Steve Frias, member of the Republican National Committee of Rhode Island, in a press release. “Those who were involved in or encouraged these aggressive double-counting tactics should be embarrassed rather than gleefully exclaiming on Twitter ‘No shakeup with the breakdown though!'”
On Friday evening, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, who was represented on the Complete Count Committee, pointed to the overtaking of former President Donald Trump, who was in office for the 2020 census.
“It’s no surprise that multiple errors were uncovered during the 2020 Census audit process. Throughout his tenure, former President Trump tried to use the 2020 Census as a political tool. “, Gorbea said in a message delivered through his gubernatorial campaign.
“At every turn, his administration undermined the process. He underfunded the entire effort, sought to unconstitutionally exclude non-citizens from the count, and he stopped the process a month early. Fortunately, President Biden’s administration is correcting both the overcounts and undercounts that are part of President Trump’s legacy of mismanagement.
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