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Florida & Georgia see populations grow, redistricting battles loom

Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 9:07 PM CDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Both Florida and Georgia are seeing a population increase in the millions. They are changes set to shape decades-worth of political futures.

Monday, the U.S. Census Bureau revealed the total population of each state and the reapportionment of Congressional seats. Georgia stayed at 14, but Florida added one, jumping up to 28 seats, which sets up for high drama at the Florida’s Capitol.

Only Texas added more people in the last ten years than Florida.

The Sunshine State is now home for more than 2.7 million people than before, a percentage increase of nearly 15 percent. But that’s not a surprise for demographer Richard Doty.

“We saw very strong growth the last few years, even during the pandemic,” said Doty.

Doty works at the University of Florida and is tapped by the state Legislature to send in a population estimate every year. His prediction this year was a bit high, but only by less than three-tenths of a percent.

The Census Bureau won’t release county-by-county breakdowns until the Fall, but Doty suspects Florida’s growth to be centered in Southeast Florida and the I-4 corridor.

“Everyone seemed to grow a lot except for our most rural counties,” added Doty.

Political scientists expected the population growth to give Florida two extra electoral votes, not just the one. University of South Florida Professor Emirta Susan MacManus said some think the count isn’t entirely right.

“There’s a lot of speculation about Texas and Florida both perhaps not faring as well in the counting of Hispanic and Florida residents,” MacManus said.

Either way, the one new seat means the State Legislature could completely redraw the map.

MacManus explained, “If you carve out something here, every district has to change.” And the process is always a spectacle.

“It is the most contentious, most fractious, most controversial activities of the Florida Legislature,” said MacManus. “And it will be that way time eternal. And it will be that way this time.”

That process is likely to happen next Legislative Session in January, with Republicans in control of the process.

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