COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio lost a congressional seat in the wake of new census figures released Monday, marking the sixth straight decade of congressional declines for the state.
Spurred by slow population growth over the past decade, the loss of a U.S. House seat comes as the state embarks on a new system of drawing its congressional cards, which are considered among the most gerrymandered in the country.
The latest census adjustment will bring state representation in the U.S. House to 15 representatives, up from 16 currently. Ohio has lost a total of nine seats since 1960. Seats in the House are distributed according to a formula tied to each state’s population as determined by census counts once a decade.
Ohio’s population grew 2.3% between 2010 and 2020, to 11.8 million, according to new census data. The national population grew by 7.4%, according to the data.
Slow job creation, an inability to attract enough immigrants, and a shortage of top-tier public research universities to attract and retain young talent are among the reasons Ohio is not developing. not faster, said Ned Hill, professor of economic development at Ohio State University’s Glenn. College of Public Affairs.
Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has advanced several initiatives to build Ohio’s pool of workers in burgeoning technology fields, including the creation of Innovation Zones in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati intended to make Ohio a medical epicenter, spokesman Dan Tierney said.
The overhaul of political maps set to begin later this year could give Democrats an opportunity to regain control of many of the remaining 15 seats. According to the current map drawn by the Republicans, they control only four of the 16 seats.
Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, said new rules approved by Ohio voters will require districts to be more compact — keeping counties and municipalities whole, among other things — and make districts more competitive. .
“One of the things we know we won’t have is ‘snake on the lake,'” she said, referring to Ohio’s 9th District, which runs along Lake Erie to merge the outlying cities of Toledo and Cleveland, both strongly Democratic. It is a tactic of gerrymandering that merges areas where one party is dominant, regardless of their distance, into the same district in order to dilute the political power of their constituents when electing members of Congress or the legislature of the ‘State.
Eliminating that level of manipulation will mean Republican and Democratic incumbents could see tougher contests next fall, Turcer said.
Already, some movement suggests that congressional representatives from Ohio can see what is coming.
U.S. Representative Tim Ryan, a comfortably elected Youngstown-area Democrat for years, has announced a candidacy for the U.S. Senate earlier Monday, the first of several members of Congress to consider a race. GOP U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers, whose Republican slant from Ohio’s Central District has narrowed, recently announced he will be leaving Congress. Former U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge, Democrat of Cleveland, left her seat to become housing and urban development secretary.
An Associated Press analysis of Ohio’s Republican-controlled political mapping process found that it proved nearly impenetrable to Democratic efforts in the 2018 election. Republicans won at least three seats in the House more than expected based on the average share of votes they received, according to the AP’s mathematical formula.
The new redistricting process beginning this year limits how counties are divided into multiple districts and requires more support from the minority party to implement a 10-year map. If state lawmakers cannot agree on this plan, an existing bipartisan commission would take over. If that fails, the majority party could pass a card that is only in effect for four years.