Montana Could Gain Congressional Seat, But it Will be Close

Population grows by 1.1 percent, 13th fastest in the country

By Kellyn Brown

The U.S. Census Bureau released its population estimates last month, and the combination of Montana’s continued steady growth and other states’ continued decline or slower growth means the Treasure State could be in line for a second member of Congress.

Currently, Republican Greg Gianforte is the lone U.S. congressman in the state, which has had a single seat since losing one in 1990. Based on the latest figures, that could change after the official 2020 U.S. Census is released and when congressional seats are reallocated before the 2022 election.

To be sure, Montana is not guaranteed an additional seat. According to a report by Election Data Services, a political consulting firm specializing in redistricting, it’s unclear whether Texas will gain two or three seats in 2020, or if Montana will gain one or remain at-large.

“The long-term and mid-term methodologies show Texas would gain three seats by 2020 and Montana would stay at a single at-large seat,” the report states. “But the short-term methodology points towards Texas having only two additional seats and the state of Montana securing seat #434 (its second seat) by just 2,493 people to spare.”

In other words, if current trends hold, it will be close.

States projected to gain congressional seats in 2020

  • Arizona +1
  • Colorado +1
  • Florida +2
  • Montana even or +1
  • North Carolina +1
  • Oregon +1
  • Texas +2 or +3

States projected to lose congressional seats in 2020

  • Alabama -1
  • Illinois -1
  • Michigan -1
  • Minnesota even or -1
  • New York -1
  • Ohio -1
  • Pennsylvania -1
  • Rhode Island -1
  • West Virginia -1

The latest Census estimates Montana was the 13th fastest-growing state in the country (including the District of Columbia) between 2016 and 2017, pegging its population at 1,050,493. The state added 11,837 people in that time and grew by 1.1 percent. Idaho was the nation’s fastest-growing state at 2.2 percent. Wyoming saw the largest decline, losing 1 percent of its population.

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