WASHINGTON — South Carolina Tuesday regained the seventh U.S. House seat it lost in 1930, making the state one of eight to gain congressional clout as a result of the 2010 Census.
The new congressional district will likely be a coastal region centered around fast-growing Horry County, and it will almost certainly tilt Republican, further isolating House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn as the delegation's lone Democrat.
Nationally, 10 states based predominantly in the Democratic strongholds of the Midwest and the Northeast ceded 12 House seats to eight Republican-leaning states in the South and the West.
That shift will make it harder for President Obama to win re-election in 2012, and for Democrats to regain control of the House and to maintain their Senate majority.
"Much is riding on the census results announced here today," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke told an overflow news conference at the National Press Club. "They will determine how more than $450 billion in federal funds are distributed. The 2010 census will serve as the backbone for our political and economic system for years to come."
South Carolina's population reached 4.65 million, giving it a 15.3 percent growth rate since 2000 when it had just over 4 million residents.
"Our state's natural beauty, positive business climate and status as a right-to-work state have attracted more and more people to locate here over the last decade," said S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell, a Charleston Republican who will play a significant role in drawing the new congressional map.
"Gaining a seventh congressional seat will give South Carolina's delegation a stronger voice in fighting against unfunded federal mandates and overreaching federal programs in Washington," Harrell said.
The country as a whole grew by 9.7 percent, with the U.S. population reaching 308.75 million.
Each of the 50 states has two U.S. senators under the Constitution. Reapportionment — the assigning the number of U.S. House seats to the various states — was the reason the Founding Fathers set a national census every decade.
The new population figures carried good news for Republicans both in South Carolina and across the country.
When the 112th Congress convenes next month, five of South Carolina's six U.S. House seats will be held by Republicans for the first time.
The 113th Congress could see Republicans claims six of seven House seats after states legislators and Republican Gov.-elect Nikki Haley redraw the congressional map.
"The governor-elect is extremely excited to see South Carolina gain a congressional seat because she believes who we send (to Washington) to represent us is critically important," said Rob Godfrey, a Haley spokesman. "She'll be paying very close attention as the redistricting process moves through the General Assembly."