County-level census data shows eastern Pennsylvania has gained population, while the western half’s numbers have shrunk.
Only three counties west of Centre gained population over the past decade, while nearly every eastern county’s population went up, with Chester, Monroe and Pike counties leading the way, percentage-wise.
An interactive map of the new numbers is available at the Census’ website.
Pennsylvania loses a Congressional seat this year, and the trends mean state lawmakers will likely look westward, when they decide which district to eliminate. Republican political consultant Christopher Nicholas has been keeping a close eye on the redistricting process. He argued the new numbers give the GOP an even stronger hand as the bill drafting begins. “The three most quote-unquote overpopulated Congressional districts – the ones with the most growth – are all Republican, held by Republicans. The 6th, Jim Gerlach; the 16th, Joe Pitts; and the 19th, Todd Platts,” he said. “Conversely, the three Congressional districts in the state which have shrunk the most are controlled by Democrats. The 2nd District, which is Chaka Fattah; the 12th District, which is Mark Critz; and the 14th District, which is Mike Doyle.”
Congressional redistricting is done through the traditional legislative process, which means Republicans will be able to easily dictate the new boundaries, since they control the House, Senate and governor’s office. The bill needs to be signed into law before January 2012, when prospective candidates will begin distributing nomination papers.