Since California has 53 Congressional Seats right now but will soon have 52. Who decides which seat will be removed? Since California is a Democratic State, will they lose a Democratic seat since they're the majority of California?

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    I don’t think the last sentence is necessary, I might be wrong. Commented May 25, 2021 at 13:51
  • Which party wins a seat is a complicated question in California. We have a top two universal primary system, which might sound like it makes it super easy for districts strongly leaning to one party to hedge out the other entirely. But it can (and I believe already did) result in a, say, heavily Democratic district putting up a Republican as one or both of its top two if there are enough Democratic contenders splitting the votes. Commented May 25, 2021 at 14:15
  • Does this answer your question? What happens to US representatives after a redistricting?
    – phoog
    Commented May 25, 2021 at 22:01
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    This is not a duplicate of the other question; this one specifically asks who decides this, in California, not what happens to Congressional districts that disappear, generally.
    – Joe
    Commented May 25, 2021 at 22:22
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    It is not correct to think of a particular district disappearing. A new map will be drawn with 51 districts. Many of them will be similar to existing districts, but not all. It will probably not be possible to determine which one disappeared. It is quite possible that the party makeup of the delegation changes by more than 1. Commented May 26, 2021 at 17:51

4 Answers 4


The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is responsible for redrawing the districts for representatives to Congress.

Following the 2010 passage of California Proposition 20, the Voters First Act for Congress, the Commission was also assigned the responsibility of redrawing the state's U.S. congressional district boundaries following the congressional apportionment arising from the 2010 United States Census.

Map-drawing process

The Voters First Act and Voters First Act for Congress amended Article XXI section 2(d) of the California Constitution to establish a set of rank-ordered criteria that the Commission followed to create new districts:

  1. Population Equality: Districts must comply with the U.S. Constitution's requirement of “one person, one vote”

  2. Federal Voting Rights Act: Districts must ensure an equal opportunity for minorities to elect a candidate of their choice

  3. Geographic Contiguity: All areas within a district must be connected to each other, except for the special case of islands

  4. Geographic Integrity: Districts shall minimize the division of cities, counties, local neighborhoods and communities of interests to the extent possible, without violating previous criteria. A community of interest is a contiguous population which shares common social and economic interests that should be included within a single district for purposes of its effective and fair representation.

  5. Geographic Compactness: To the extent practicable, and where this does not conflict with previous criteria, districts must not bypass nearby communities for more distant communities

  6. Nesting: To the extent practicable, and where this does not conflict with previous criteria, each Senate district will be composed of two whole Assembly districts, Board of Equalization districts will be composed of 10 Senate districts.

In addition, incumbents, political candidates or political parties cannot be considered when drawing districts.

Note: The above was also used in my answer to a different question. Democratic gerrymander in California to remove as many Republican seats as possible? [closed]

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    Since the OP seems a bit new to redistricting - to be clear, the districts will be redrawn "from scratch," it's not that one district will be merged into another. Districts must be redrawn to accommodate not only the loss of a district, but population changes since 2010. Commented May 25, 2021 at 20:08

Every state, including those that neither gain nor lose seats in the House of Representatives, is supposed to adjust their Congressional boundaries every ten years to accommodate population changes, per the US constitution. Many states see this as an opportunity for even more gerrymandering (or re-gerrymandering in the case that the state legislature switches power).

Some states have tried to make the redistricting process apolitical. California's 2010 Proposition 20 was an attempt at accomplishing that. Whether this remains apolitical remains to be seen. It is quite possible that the Republicans in California will lose two seats, enabling the Democrats to gain one. It also is quite possible it will be the other way around (that the Democrats lose two seats, enabling the Republicans to gain one). And of course it is possible that the Republicans will lose one seat, or that the Democrats will lose one seat.

The idealistic intent of redistricting has two primary goals: (1) representing the population (one person, one vote), and (2) representing the will of the people. Political parties are anything but idealistic. In many states, gerrymandering has become a very precise science thanks to data analytics. California does not appear to be one of those highly gerrymandered states.


No individual seat is going to be removed - that is, no one's going to say that say the 22nd Congressional District gets removed. Instead, ALL of the districts will have their boundaries redrawn, after which there will be 52 districts instead of 53. Some of the districts may be approximately the same as the old ones, some may be very different. It depends on population changes, filtered through the politics of the redistricting commission.


All representatives must run for reelection after the redistricting, so if any two representatives are running in the same district, the voters in that district will decide which of them to send back to the house, or whether to pick someone new.

The number of "safe" districts for each party will be determined through the redistricting process, as described in the other answers.

  • Does the redistricting commission decide which new district all the incumbents are assigned to? Or can a Congressman use this as an opportunity to run in a completely different district?
    – Barmar
    Commented May 26, 2021 at 16:28
  • @Barmar: No. At least in theory: practical politics may be different, of course. The Congressional districts are completely redrawn, so if any current Representative wanted to run again, they'd have to run in whatever new district they lived in. (Or possibly move to a new district where they thought they had a better chance.)
    – jamesqf
    Commented May 26, 2021 at 17:51
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    @jamesqf Congressmen aren't required to live in their district, although they usually do. But an article from 10 years ago mentions a Congressman who started out in their home district, and was reelected to the same district when redistricting moved him out of it.
    – Barmar
    Commented May 26, 2021 at 19:01

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