THE CENSUS: Big Shuffle

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The job had taken nearly three years and 150,000 people. Last week it was done; the 1950 census was officially over.

In ten record-breaking years, the U.S. had gained 19,028,086 people. All but four states had grown, and the increases in the west were gigantic; California alone could count 3,678,836 newcomers (more people than live in any one of 36 other states). The total U.S. population—150,697,361—was about 45 million more than it was in the '205,90 million more than it was in the Gay Nineties.

Besides its value to businessmen, economists and government planners, the census will have one important political effect. When the new 82nd Congress convenes in January, the House will have just 15 days to decide what to do about it. Each state's membership in the House is in proportion to its share of the U.S. population. The House can satisfy the states which have grown bigger by increasing its membership (pegged at 435 since 1911) or by taking away Representatives from other states.* Nobody really wants to increase the size of the House; it is already unwieldy enough, has to limit debate to get things done. Probable reshufflings :

Increases in Congressmen—California, 7; Florida, 2; one each for Maryland, Michigan, Texas, Virginia, Washington.

Losses in Congressmen—Pennsylvania, 3; Missouri, Oklahoma, New York, 2; and one each for Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee. New York's delegation will still be the biggest, with 43; California, by its gain, and Pennsylvania, by its loss, will be tied for second biggest, with 30 Congressmen each.

In 1920, when the Drys controlled the House, they refused to reapportion because they were afraid of losing seats to the Wets. It was 1929 before a law forcing reapportionment was pushed through, just before a new census would have required another change.

How each state apportions its Representatives is left to state legislatures. In the past, this has touched off spectacular maneuvering in the states losing House seats, as each political party seeks to redraw district lines to its own gerrymandering advantage. Sometimes, when one party controls one house and another party the other, a deadlock results. If a state losing seats has not completed redistricting by the next congressional election, all its Congressmen must be elected "at large." In New York, for example, this would mean that every voter would have to vote on 43 Congressmen.

* Every state, no matter how small its population, gets one Representative. The balance of Congressional seats are allotted to the states in proportion to their populations.