Oregon is still on track to gain a sixth seat in the U.S. House, according to elections experts studying new Census Bureau population estimates released Wednesday.
Kimball Brace of Election Data Services in Virginia said he projects that Oregon should gain another seat with about 140,000 people to spare. That’s relatively close, but not as close to the margin as it is for some states.
“There are still some potential changes coming that could impact Oregon,” he said. These include population changes caused by a disaster or an economic shock — or big differences in what the Census Bureau turns up when it attempts to count the entire population in 2020.
Another firm, Polidata in Vermont, also projects that Oregon will gain a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Both firms project that Washington will continue to have 10 congressional seats. But they say California could lose a seat for the first time in its history.
Under current Oregon law, it will be up to the state Legislature to redraw district lines in 2021. And if Democrats maintain control of the Legislature, they will be able to send a bill to Gov. Kate Brown — her term runs until early 2023 — even if Republicans object.
If legislators can’t complete the job, the task goes to the state courts.
In addition, several groups are pushing to take redistricting away from the Legislature and give it to some type of independent commission.
Oregon last gained a new congressional seat in 1980. Since then, the district lines have remained relatively unchanged. But an addition of a sixth seat could greatly scramble their boundaries.
Currently, Democrats hold four seats while Republicans have one.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story misstated what happens if legislators cannot complete the task of drawing new congressional district lines.