A big data dump from the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday included plenty of revealing tidbits about Minnesota.
The non-Hispanic white population slightly declined, while diverse communities saw big growth. Populations in the metro area grew, while some rural counties stayed flat or even declined slightly.
Those findings aren't totally unexpected, as other data between this census and the last one a decade ago showed trends moving in those directions. But the official release from the federal government kicks off the redistricting process and offers the first preview of how the state's congressional and legislative districts might be redrawn.
Here are four takeaways from the data:
Big districts get even bigger
Minnesota's eight members of Congress breathed a collective sigh of relief earlier this year when the state narrowly hung on to all of its seats in the U.S. House. Losing a seat would have totally reshuffled the map, but changes are still coming, especially for the rural districts that saw population loss. Minnesota's First, Seventh and Eighth districts in rural Minnesota have too few people and will need to be adjusted — read: likely grow geographically. Those are already massive districts, covering the entire north, south and western portions of the state. All are represented by Republicans.
Most growth in Third District
The most growth happened in Minnesota's Third District, covering many of the western Twin Cities suburbs. That means the district will likely have to shrink geographically for equal representation, but the challenge is that the neighboring Fifth District, which covers Minneapolis, also grew in population. That process is likely to make the Third District more safely Democratic, as lines close in on friendly territory around the urban core. Rep. Dean Phillips is the first Democrat to represent the area in decades.
Fewer rural Senate districts
The major growth in the metro area and stagnant or declining growth in rural districts could be good news for Democrats in the battle for control of the state Senate, which is narrowly controlled by Republicans.
Many rural districts currently controlled by Republican senators or independents lost population or saw stagnant growth, meaning they'll have to grow geographically, resulting in fewer rural districts. Democrats represent a majority of the fastest-growing areas of the state, meaning their districts will have to shrink, potentially creating more districts.
Mixed results in state House
A similar pattern occurred in state House districts, which saw a boost in population growth in urban districts held by Democrats in Minneapolis and St. Paul, which could result in more safe urban seats for Democrats. But Minneapolis didn't grow as much as early estimates suggested, and there was also major population growth in traditionally conservative areas in the southwestern suburbs.