BILLINGS – Montana could add a second U.S. House seat if population estimates made public on Tuesday hold, officials said.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s Vintage 2020 Population Estimate said the state’s population is 1,080,577, about 23,000 more people than in Rhode Island, which is the least populated state with two congressional districts, The Billings Gazette reported.
The first Census Bureau numbers are expected to be released in January, until then the state won’t officially know if it has the figures to gain a second House seat, officials said. The 435 U.S. House seats are divided up according to population in the decennial Census.
“I’m encouraged by what I see and I’d say things are trending in the right direction,” said Dan Stusek, one of two Republican members of the Montana Districting and Apportionment Committee.
Montana could become the first state to regain a House seat after being reduced to at-large status. The state last had two House seats in 1992 and Republicans have held the state’s only seat since 1997.
Political consulting firm Election Data Services said the state’s hold on a second seat is “tenuous” and is likely going to be determined by about 4,700 people.
The estimate from the Census Bureau is not part of the 2020 Census in which the goal is to survey every household. The Vintage Population Estimate comes from the bureau’s Demographic Analysis Group and looks at how much the population has changed based on births, minus deaths, plus the number of people moving in or out of an area.
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