President Joe Biden’s path to reelection just got a little harder.
As a result of Census Bureau population figures released Monday, if every state voted the same way in 2024 that they did in 2020, Biden would win three fewer Electoral College votes than he did in November, while the Republican nominee would win three more.
The shift is only a marginal one — it would only affect the closest of elections.
But that doesn’t mean the new state numbers — which are used to apportion the number of congressional districts each state gets, and thus the number of electoral votes — won’t alter the landscape in 2024 and 2028.
Here are five reasons why:
The gap between the popular vote and the Electoral College is widening.
Biden beat then-President Donald Trump by 74 Electoral College votes. A net gain of six votes for Trump wouldn’t have mattered.
But in a close race — like the one in 2000, where just five electoral votes separated George W. Bush and Al Gore — the re-balancing of the Electoral College could tip the scales.
And by improving the math for Republicans even slightly, the latest reapportionment did something even more significant for the GOP: For a party that is struggling to compete with Democrats for the popular vote, the latest population count preserved — even enhanced — the Electoral College edge that keeps the Republican Party competitive in presidential elections at all.
“It’s certainly an incremental change in the Republicans’ favor,” Tom Bonier, CEO of the Democratic data firm TargetSmart, wrote in an email. “Not quite as significant as projected, but to the extent that the Electoral College has a built in advantage in the Republicans’ favor, that advantage is now slightly larger.”