After a lengthy delay, the Census Bureau will release the data used to redraw congressional and state legislative boundaries next Thursday, Aug. 12, the agency said in a statement, setting up what is certain to be a highly contentious nationwide fight over redistricting before the midterm elections next year.
The census data had been delayed largely because of difficulties in collecting and processing the enormous amount of information amid the coronavirus pandemic, but also because of efforts by President Donald J. Trump to meddle with the census by adjusting its timing.
The pandemic and Mr. Trump’s actions — he also sought to add a citizenship question — have left some people questioning the count’s accuracy. The debate over the citizenship question, in particular, has raised worries about possible suppression of the participation of Latino communities.
The delay forced many states to delay their redistricting plans, which will most likely lead to a compressed, scrambled process with elevated stakes. There is growing belief in Washington that the balance of power in the House of Representatives after the 2022 midterm elections will depend largely on the results of the redistricting process.
Multiple battleground states, including Florida, Texas and North Carolina, are set to gain at least one new congressional seat, as are Colorado, Montana and Oregon. Seven states will lose a seat: New York, California, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Illinois.
Potential House and Senate candidates have also been forced to keep their political ambitions frozen in amber as they wait to see whether redistricting will affect their ability to hold on to a current seat, open up an opportunity to run for a newly drawn seat, or otherwise change their calculus for seeking a particular office.