Feb. 9, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

In the Future, a Southern Route to the White House

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Texas delegate John W. Allen takes in the sights at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Meanwhile, as the Sun Belt's political importance rises, the most populous Midwestern states have flat-lined. Ohio barely picked up any population in the last decade, forcing the state to drop two House seats in the latest round of reapportionment.

"We're stagnant - flat at 11 million for 30 years," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a former Senator, on Monday morning.

It's possible that Ohio and its fellow Rust Belt battlegrounds like Pennsylvania and Michigan will still be competitive in a couple decades. But if population decline continues, they will lose electoral votes - and also political power.

Of course, all of this projected data is just that - educated guesswork. Typically, the U.S. Census does not dare to forecast population projections for reapportionment until halfway through the decade. Local economies, or even natural events, can alter the course of population growth.

Just a few years ago, experts predicted Louisiana would soon pick up a House seat to account for population growth. Then Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

"It's still early in the decade," Brace said last week. "Anybody wanting to project forward is probably at their peril because we know you could have a 'Katrina' yesterday - it could happen next week in a place called 'Tampa.'"

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