Census Bureau Says It ‘Significantly’ Miscounted 2020 Population In More Than 1/4 Of States

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Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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The U.S. Census Bureau said Thursday that it “significantly” miscounted the population of more than a quarter of U.S. states in the 2020 census.

The faulty numbers have already been used to allocate the next decade’s House of Representatives seats and Electoral College votes. The Census Bureau conducted a follow-up survey which found that 14 states were either under- or over-counted by a statistically significant amount.

Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas were listed as under-counted states. Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Utah were listed as over-counted. Arkansas was the most under-counted state, missing by just over 5%, and Hawaii was the most overcounted state, at 6.79%.

While it isn’t immediately clear the exact effect the miscount may have had on the House of Representatives or Electoral College allocation, five of the six states under-counted are controlled by Republicans and five of the eight states over-counted are controlled by Democrats. Minnesota is split, with one legislative body controlled by each party and a Democratic governor. (RELATED: ANALYSIS: The Census Sparked A Behind-The-Scenes Battle For Control Of Congress)

The Census Bureau report cites several unique challenges posed to conducting the 2020 census. The most obvious of these was the COVID-19 pandemic, which the Bureau said complicated the field work it uses to arrive at population counts. The report also cited political controversies surrounding the 2020 census, including a proposed citizenship question from the Trump administration and changes to the non-response follow-up procedures.

In March, the Bureau said that, on a nationwide basis, the 2020 census undercounted black, Latino and Native American populations while overcounting white Americans. However, the Bureau does not intend to release state-level over- and under-count metrics divided by race or ethnicity. During a Wednesday briefing, officials said they are already using the report to better prepare for the 2030 census.