Minnesota takes joy in beating New York for last House seat

Minnesota takes joy in beating New York for last House seat

In the census showdown between Minnesota and New York, Minnesotans are celebrating coming out ahead. 

When they meet on the baseball diamond, the rivalry between Minnesota and New York isn’t much to see: The Yankees have won more than 300 more games against the Twins than the Twins have taken from the Bronx Bombers — including a 13-game Yankees winning streak in the playoffs.

But in an altogether more rare match-up, in a contest for the 435th and final seat in the House of Representatives, Minnesota came out ahead this week, besting New York for the very last seat allocated by the decennial U.S. census by the narrowest margin in the modern history of the reapportionment process. 


Now, Minnesotans have declared victory in the perpetual battle for bragging rights between states.

“This is big. Proud of you, Minnesota,” Gov. Tim WalzTim WalzThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting Minnesota governor jokes that residents should 'go get vaccinated so you're alive to vote against me' Biden vows to get 'more aggressive' on lifestyle benefits of vaccines MORE (D) wrote on Twitter, highlighting MPR News reporter Brian Bakst’s story.


“Census Bureau says Minnesota got the LAST seat,” Bakst wrote. “We never take the last of anything!” 


Across Minnesota, elected officials celebrated the surprise result that will maintain the state’s eight seats in the House. Calculations by the demographer Kimball Brace found Minnesota kept its eighth district by a margin of just 26 residents — while New York missed out on maintaining its 27-seat delegation by just 89 residents.

When it comes to allocating the final seats in Congress, the differences between the winners and losers are always slim — but never has a state gained or lost a seat by double-digit margins.

“Winning by 89 in the Census makes losing by about 89 over the past decade in Yankee Stadium just a little less painful,” wrote Rep. Dean PhillipsDean PhillipsMinnesota takes joy in beating New York for last House seat Bold leadership is necessary to curb violence against youth Democrat Rita Hart withdraws challenge in Iowa House race MORE (D), who holds a suburban seat west of the Twin Cities.



Most observers had expected Minnesota to lose a seat, after coming perilously close to seeing its delegation shrink the last time around. But the state grew faster than the national average over the last decade, and Minnesota spent $2 million to engineer a Complete Count campaign that delivered just over the necessary residents to save their delegation — and the billions in funding that will come with it.

“Census nerds! We did it! Minnesota will NOT lose a congressional seat!” tweeted Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan (D), complete with a nerd-faced emoji and a video of Sesame Street’s Count von Count dancing around with a number eight.


Minnesota spent just a fraction of what states like New York and California — which also lost a seat in this round of reapportionment — did on their Complete Count campaign. But Minnesotans didn’t need too much convincing: Three-quarters of Minnesota residents self-responded to the census, a higher percentage than any other state, and 11 percentage points higher than the self-response rate in New York.

That factor alone may have saved Minnesota’s seat — and birthed a thousand Twitter comedians.

“Minnesota is comprised of planners,” Tom Scheck, an investigative reporter at Minnesota-based American Public Media, wrote on Twitter. “For Pete’s sake, Minnesotans sign their kids up for summer camp in February. The state will always win the close call re: census.”

The fallout when a state loses a seat in Congress is always painful: The members who plan to run for reelection furiously lobby the legislature to draw favorable maps. State legislators themselves can plot to draw maps to their own advantage. And legislators have to contemplate the implications for a state budget that is set to lose billions in federal funding over the following decade.

The happy news in Minnesota means the state’s relatively young congressional delegation — five of its eight members are serving their second terms and a sixth, Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R), is only months into her first term — will not have to turn on each other. Minnesota Rep. Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerDemocrats confront difficult prospects for midterms House GOP campaign arm adds to target list Minnesota takes joy in beating New York for last House seat MORE (R) is in his second stint as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Minnesota politicians are “busy putting their long knives away,” joked one longtime Minnesota Republican strategist.