Missouri's loss of one congressional seat will give the state its smallest delegation since the 1850 census and provide Republicans who control the state Legislature with an opportunity to redraw districts to solidify their party's power if they so choose.
The U.S. Census Bureau announced Tuesday that Missouri's delegation will shrink from nine to eight seats as its population grows more slowly than the nation's as a whole. Missouri's population grew by 7 percent to just under 6 million people, but entire country's population grew by 9.7 percent, the bureau said. Every 10 years, the 435 seats in the U.S. House are redistributed among the states based on population.
The loss of the seat means one of Missouri's federal lawmakers likely will be forced out of a job, and with its voice in Washington reduced, the state is likely to get less federal money for local projects. It also will lose a seat in the Electoral College, reducing its influence in presidential elections.
Missouri's congressional delegation peaked at 16 after the 1900 census and stayed there until after the 1930 count. The state most recently lost a seat after the 1980 census cut the number of districts from 10 to nine. That consolidation helped cost Republican Wendell Bailey his seat in Congress. He lost in the 1982 election to Democrat Ike Skelton.
Some have speculated the loss of another seat this year could similarly make Democratic U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan a target. Carnahan won re-election to his St. Louis-area seat this year in a tight contest against Republican challenger Ed Martin.
Political scientist George Connor said he expects state Republicans to be cautious about redrawing districts to force out Missouri's three Democratic congressmen, but that Carnahan seemed the most vulnerable.