by Chris Cillizza, CNN
While the world was fixated on the coronavirus, the US Census Bureau released its latest county-by-county population estimates.
And their findings make one thing abundantly clear: Texas is going to become the most important political state over the next decade.
Here’s why: Growth in Texas is absolutely off the charts.
Of the 10 counties with the largest population growth in the country between 2010 and 2019, six of them are in Texas.
Harris County (Houston) had the second largest population increase over the first nine years of the decade, adding more than 620,000 people. (Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, took the top spot with more than 668,000 new people.)
The other five Texas counties in the Top 10 in terms of population increase are: Tarrant (Fort Worth), Bexar (San Antonio), Dallas (Dallas), Collin (Plano, McKinney) and Travis (Austin).
But it’s not just that these big Texas counties are adding lots of people. It’s that even smaller counties in Texas are growing faster — as a percentage of their 2010 population — than many places in the country.
Of the 10 counties in terms of percentage population growth between 2010 and 2019, four are in Texas: Hays (southwest of Austin), Comal (northeast of San Antonio), Kendall (west of Austin) and Williamson (north of Austin).
What all that bonkers growth means is that Texas’ congressional delegation — and, by extension, its number of electoral votes — are going to soar after the 2020 Census and reapportionment.
Texas is projected to gain three seats in 2021, and could gain more depending on how its growth numbers match up with the rest of the country. Three more congressional seats would bring Texas’ total to 39 House seats — and 41 total electoral votes, behind only California’s 53 seats and 55 electoral votes.
But — and this is really important — unlike solidly Democratic California, Texas is emerging as a swing state thanks to huge growth in the Hispanic community and their movement toward Democrats, particularly in the Trump era.
The Point: Combine Texas’ growth with its expected increase in swingy-ness as the state and federal level and you see why it looks like the most important political state of the next decade.
Chris Cillizza is the CNN Editor-at-large