By Rep Steve Vaillancourt (R-Hills15)
Here's the problem. As of July 1, 2009, the census estimated NH's population at 1,324,575. (Remember the cheers about how we'd surpassed Maine in population). It seems that although our growth for the decade is the highest in the region, 6.5 percent, we lost 8105 people in the last year of the decade, down to 1,316,470 (as opposed to 1,328,361 for Maine). That's a 0.61 percent drop for the past year!
What does this mean for State Rep breakdown? There are a couple of borderline cases, but since we don't have new county numbers, one way to look at it is to take the county populations of 2009 and divide by 3311 (that would have been the number of people per rep had the population stayed at 1,324,575; it's 3291 based on the 1,316,470 number). The problem with this is that we won't know for a few months if the 8105 loss the past year will be evenly split throughout the counties, and it will matter because there are a few "bubble" situations.
It appears virtually certain that Coos and Cheshire will lose one Rep and that Merrimack will gain one; right now, Belknap is only slightly ahead of Carroll for the other gain. However, should the Coos population drop at more than the state rate for the past year, it could conceivably lose not one but two reps.
Here's the 2009 data:
Belknap--61,358--deserves 18.53 reps (currently has 18) May gain one.
Carroll--47,860--deserves 14.45 reps (currently has 14) May gain one.
Cheshire--77,045--deserves 23.27 reps (currently has 24) Most likely will lose one.
Coos--31,487--deserves 9.51 reps (currently has 11!) Will lose at least one; probably not two.
Grafton--86,291--deserves 26.06 reps (currently has 26) Probably no change.
Hillsborough--405,906--deserves 122.59 reps (currently has 123) Probably no change.
Merrimack--149,071--deserves 45.02 reps (curently has 44) Will gain one.
Rockingham--299,276--deserves 90.39 reps (currently has 90) Probably no change.
Strafford--123,589--deserves 37.32 reps (currently has 37). Probably no change but this could be a surprise +1.
Sullivan--42,692--deserves 12.89 reps (currently has 13). No change.
If the 0.61 percent drop is split evently, this is how it would break down. Of course, that's not likely to happen, so it looks to me like Belknap and Carroll are the places to watch. I'd assume that even if Coos drops slightly below 8.5, it would be rounded up to 9 for a combination of statistical reasons too complicated to get into here.
The same exercise can be done with cities. I've done Manchester and Nashua and am fairly certainly that both stand to lose two reps.
Manchester--109,279--deserves exactly 33.00 (currently has 35). Will likely lose 2.
Note: Manchester picked up only 268 people between 2008 and 2009. Had the calucation been done using 2008 numbers, it would have deserved 32.98 reps (109,011 divided by 3305), so it seems certainly Manchester will be locked in at 33. That'll make an interesting configuation for 12 wards.
Nashua--87,555--deserves 26.44 (currently has 28). Will lose one or two.
Note: Nashua picked up 482 people between 2008 and 2009. Had the calculation been made using 2008 numbers, it would have deserved 26.35 (87,073 divided by 3305), so Nashua is truly on the bubble and of course, with nine wards, it would be much easier to redistrict if had 27 rather than 26 reps.
Of course, the redistricting committee would have the option of creating floats using wards for a city with surrounding towns, probably NOT a good idea!
You can download the July 2009, city, town and county data from the U.S. Census web site and figure out what your own area deserves.
It's always good to have another pair of eyes look at data, so if you find any errors here, please let me know.