The Daily Gamecock

South Carolina gains extra congressional seat

2010 Census data gives state seventh representative, additional political influence

USC political science experts cheered the addition of an extra congressional seat because of the 2010 Census results, saying it could bring the state a greater voice and more money.

While the seat gives an extra vote in Congress, it’s a lot more important than that, according to Robert Oldendick, a professor of political science at USC.

“The more important impact will be on population based federal programs. The flow of government money will be greater to South Carolina, which is a positive result of the population growth,” Oldendick said.

Don Fowler, a professor in the Department of Political Science, agrees with Oldendick.  Fowler said acquiring a seventh seat and getting more say in Congress is important and also creates additional advantages.

“In the same fashion it will give South Carolina a little bit more influence in presidential elections,” Fowler said. “We only went from eight to nine electoral votes, but it’s something.”

The extra seat will go into effect for the 2012 election, and congressional boundaries will be redrawn. The boundaries have yet to be determined, but many experts expect the new district to be along the coast, the state’s fastest growing area.

“The Republicans have a majority in the House and Senate in the legislature, and they are going to do their best to make this a Republican district,” Fowler said.

Oldendick expects the seat to be “solidly Republican.”  He suspects that the current first district will have to be adjusted most, and the new district will include the northern part of the coast.

State legislature, currently controlled by Republicans, will likely make the decision on placement of the new district. Before a final decision is made, the Federal Voting Rights Act requires any new congressional districts in South Carolina to be approved by the Justice Department to assure that minority groups are properly represented.

In December, The U.S. Census Bureau announced that South Carolina gained a seventh congressional seat based on the Census results released December 21st. The state’s population grew 15.3 percent to 4.6 million residents in the past decade.The data showed the overall U.S. population increased by 9.7 percent to 308.7 million from the Census results in 2000, the smallest growth since the Great Depression.

South Carolina lost its seventh seat in 1930 and has had six congressional seats since. There was substantial population growth in the 1990s, leading to talk of gaining a seventh seat based on the 2000 Census results but ultimately South Carolina fell short.

South Carolina is one of eight states that gained a congressional seat. Because there are only 435 congressional seats available, seats have to be allotted to a state based on the size of their population.

Southern and western states added the most seats compared to other parts of the country. Along with South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Washington, Arizona, Nevada and Utah gained seats while Ohio, New York, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania all lost seats, meaning that states that are primarily dominated by the Republican Party gained seats, while states that are historically Democratic lost seats.