Legislative Apportionment

January 3, 1950

Report Outline
New U.S. Census and Reapportionment
Bases and Methods of Apportionment
Reapportionment of Congress after 1950
Reapportionment of State Legislatures
Special Focus

New U.S. Census and Reapportionment

Reapportionment and the 1952 Election

Questions of representation in law-making bodies will be raised anew by results of the census of the United States to be taken in 1950. Shifts of population disclosed by the count of heads will affect representation both in Congress and in state legislatures, as well as the distribution of votes in the electoral college. Other questions of representation are emerging in connection with projects for world government. Here the problem concerns not only equitable representation by geographic areas or numbers of inhabitants but also the varying degrees of experience with representative government. The extent to which the United States, as the largest nation with a representative form of government, achieves fair representation in its national and state legislatures is therefore of interest far outside its borders.

If estimates of population growth and shifts since the 1940 census are sustained by the 1950 count, reapportionment of membership in the House of Representatives will result in considerable gains for the Pacific Coast states. The South and the Middle Atlantic region will suffer net losses. These changes will increase the voting strength of the West, which maintains a united front on certain major issues regardless of party alignments, and will correspondingly weaken the voting power of the Solid South. Further strength will accrue to the West if Alaska and Hawaii are admitted to the Union, for those territories have many of the same resource development problems as the western states.

Because the number of electoral votes assigned to individual states varies with the size of state congressional delegations, reapportionment of the House will produce a corresponding realignment of strength in the electoral college. This realignment will be effective in 1952, for the number of electors chosen by each state is the same as the number of senators and representatives to which the state is entitled in the Congress in session at the time the President takes office. Because the reapportioned House of the 83rd Congress will convene before the next inauguration (Jan. 20, 1953), its numbers will be reflected in the next electoral college.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Reapportionment, Redistricting, and Representation
Aug. 25, 2017  Redistricting Showdown
Feb. 25, 2011  Redistricting Debates
Apr. 11, 2008  D.C. Voting Rights
Feb. 16, 2001  Redistricting
Aug. 12, 1994  Electing Minorities
Feb. 15, 1991  Redistricting: Drawing Power with a Map
Feb. 05, 1982  Reapportionment: Year of Decision
Sep. 30, 1964  Reapportionment Struggle
May 03, 1961  Reapportionment in the Courts
Oct. 29, 1958  Unequal Representation
Oct. 10, 1950  Representation in the United Nations
Jan. 03, 1950  Legislative Apportionment
Nov. 08, 1938  Proportional Representation
May 13, 1929  The Census and Reapportionment
Dec. 06, 1927  Apportionment of Representatives in Congress
Reapportionment and Redistricting