Illinois' large population losses are pushing it closer to the possibility of losing not just one, but two congressional seats after the next Census, according to a new report.
Virginia-based Election Data Services has already projected that, based on current population trends, Illinois will lose one of its 18 congressional seats the next time seats are reapportioned.
However, as losses in the state have grown, the chances of losing more political clout is growing, too.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Census Bureau released figures estimating that Illinois lost 33,703 people between mid-2016 and mid-2017, taking its population down to just over 12.8 million.
Over the past three years, the state has lost more than 80,000 people, according to the estimates.
Election Data Services said its long-term analysis of population trends since 2010 shows Illinois would lose one seat but avoid losing two with only 36,803 people to spare.
But using a short-term methodology looking at the population losses in just the past year, the state would lose that second seat, the report said, meaning it would only have just 16 spots in the House after 2020.
Illinois has seen a steady decline in the number of congressional seats. It lost one after the 2010 Census and six since 1980.
"It's a continued diminishment of clout for our state and our region, as more people move out and go to Sunbelt states," said Robin Johnson, a political science professor at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois.
The loss of two congressional seats in Illinois would undoubtedly make drawing boundaries within the state more controversial and raise concerns in downstate Illinois, where rural areas have seen population declines for years.
"It should be proportionate but it will come down to the people writing the maps," Johnson said. He notes the city of Chicago has seen population losses, too.
The new projections by Election Data Services aren't so daunting for the state of Iowa. Iowa lost one of its five congressional seats after the 2010 Census, bringing it down to four. And even though the state's population is growing more slowly than others, the new population estimates don't point to it losing any seats after the next Census.
The Election Data Services report says that 15 or 16 states could gain or lose districts by the next Census. The report says using the new sets of projected data, Texas would gain three seats, while Florida would add two. Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon and possibly Minnesota would add one. Among the losers: Alabama, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia and possibly Minnesota.
The report noted that the Census Bureau's latest population figures don't take into account the impact of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria hitting the Gulf region in August and September.
“It won't be until next year when we see whether population lost in Houston was enough to keep Texas at gaining only two districts, instead of three," said Kimball Brace, president of Election Data Services. "And while Irma may have cut down some population in Florida, Maria's widespread and ongoing impact in Puerto Rico has reportedly led to a quarter million American citizens moving to Florida, mainly in the center of the state."