Minnesota is among four states hoping to hang on to a seat in Congress after the 2010 census, the state demographer said.
Tom Gillaspy said Minnesota would lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives if the census were taken today. He said the state is competing with Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Minnesota has had eight House seats since 1960.
"The difference is very, very small," he said, "easily within any estimating error and easily within a slight modification in growth rates."
House seats are apportioned based on population. If current trends hold, that would mean southern states would gain congressional seats after the 2010 census while states in the Upper Midwest and the Northeast would probably lose out.
Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute, said Minnesota's political influence would lessen if it lost a seat. The state would also lose an electoral vote in presidential elections and receive less money from the federal government, which considers population in determining how much to spend on such programs as Medicare and Medicaid.
The state plans to spend $300,000 over the next two years to ensure every Minnesotan is counted during the 2010 census.
State legislators and the governor are required to redraw political maps for Congress and the Legislature following the census. Those in power would decide, for example, which incumbents would have to run against each other.
All the worry could be moot. A confluence of economic or natural factors could change the estimate in 2010, Gillaspy said.