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Census Results Boost Sun Belt State Clout For 2024 Presidential Race

Both parties’ presidential tickets will have to contemplate campaign strategy in 2024 a bit differently than 2020 due to adjustments to how many Electoral College votes each state gets.

Texas and Florida, the second- and third-largest states, respectively, will have more votes this time in the 538-member Electoral College. Texas’s House delegation will grow to 38 members, meaning it will have 40 electoral votes. And Florida will have 30 electoral votes, one more than in 2020.

The gains, driven by population changes over the past decade, were part of a massive dataset released by the Census Bureau on Monday.

In the short run, this means the GOP could see an advantage as the party seeks to take back the White House in the next presidential election three and a half years from now. Florida is a Republican-trending state, while the longtime GOP bastion of Texas still favors the party, even though it’s becoming more competitive.

“Reapportionment will advantage Republicans because votes are shifting to states that lean towards the GOP. Places like Florida and Texas will be big winners, and Republican presidential candidates do very well there,” Darrell West, vice president and director of governance studies at the left-leaning Brookings Institution, told the Washington Examiner.

Texas, where political analysts and strategists have predicted a tide turning toward Democrats, is likely to be more competitive in presidential cycles, but just how soon it may compete as a battleground is an open question.

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West argues the Lone Star State will be one to watch in 2028 but may not carry as much play in 2024. But with shifting demographics turning the state more politically purple, in seven years’ time, Texas may be a state a Democratic presidential nominee can fight to take.

“I’d be surprised if Texas was competitive in 2024, just because it’ll take a while for the political and demographic changes to unfold, but by 2028, Texas very likely could be competitive,” West said.

Florida, on the other hand, is also experiencing a population boom, but the demographics seem to lean more conservative, said GOP strategist Doug Heye.

For example, in 2020, Cuban Americans were a key factor in giving former President Donald Trump a victory in his adopted home state.

“Florida will be more important, but I would argue that Florida is less of a swing state now than it was 21 years ago,” Heye said.

As for Texas, Heye pointed to Democrats’ previous optimism in recent years that fell short but agrees that long-term demographic shifts may help the party.

Pollsters predicted an opening for Democrats in the 2018 Senate race between former Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Ted Cruz, as well as a possible youth turnout that could deliver a surprise win for President Joe Biden in 2020. In both cases, Republicans were able to retain their hold on the state.

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“[Democrats have] been talking a big game in Texas for a while now, and they haven’t broken through yet,” Heye told the Washington Examiner. “As we talk about three years from now, and certainly seven years from now, it’s clear that the way that growth is going in Texas and in a lot of states, that that could eventually favor Democrats.”

West said the upper Midwestern states will likely remain as competitive as they have been in recent cycles because they carry a large number of electoral votes when taken together. In 2020, Democrats were able to take back Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania after Trump’s upset victories in 2016.

However, Michigan and Pennsylvania are both losing an electoral vote, meaning they’ll be slightly less important in 2024.

But other states, such as Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia, may also see more competition, especially after the Jan. 5 Senate runoffs in the Peach State helped deliver Democrats a slim majority in the chamber. How these states play out in presidential races, which typically carry a higher voter turnout, remains to be seen.

“The Midwest still will be a big battleground, just because there are a lot of Electoral College votes there, and even if a state loses [some] congressional seats, it’s not going to change the overall arithmetic,” West said. “But it’s clear there are other states that are going to be battleground states.”

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Meanwhile, Oregon will pick up a new House seat, and thereby an extra Electoral College vote. The state is safely Democratic in presidential elections.

Story cited here.

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