SALT LAKE CITY -- Census figures being released Tuesday are expected to show heavily Republican Utah will pick up a fourth seat in Congress in 2012.
The Census Bureau is releasing its once a decade population totals for states, which are used to redistribute the 435 U.S. House seats according to population growth.
That distribution affects a state's influence in presidential elections through the Electoral College and also the sway it holds on any number of other federal issues.
Utah missed out on a fourth seat after the 2000 Census because 11,000 overseas Mormon missionaries were not counted.
The seat went instead to North Carolina, which was able to elect a 13th U.S. representative with an advantage over Utah of only 856 people.
Since then, Utah's population has grown from about 2.2 million to 2.8 million, according to state estimates.
Utah's population surged during the middle of the decade as its economy boomed, frequently outperforming the rest of the nation in job growth. Utah maintained its population growth during the Great Recession, in large part, because it has one of the nation's highest birth rates. Utah also has an unemployment rate that's lower than the national average.
Figures by the Virginia-based Election Data Services indicate that a dozen congressional seats affecting 18 states could change hands when the Census figures are released. They include four seats for Texas, two for Florida and one each for Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.
EDS projects 10 states will lose seats. New York and Ohio stand to each lose two. States that face the prospect of losing a seat include Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
States will get detailed Census data in early 2011 to help them divvy up legislative districts, with a goal of having each district's population as close as possible to the other's.
Utah lawmakers already have floated two generic mapping possibilities. One proposal would call for slicing the state up like a pie, with Salt Lake County as its center. The other option, called the doughnut, would allow Democratic-leaning Salt Lake County to essentially be its own district.
Of Utah's three current congressmen, only the 2nd District's Jim Matheson is a Democrat.
In highly conservative Utah, a Republican is expected to fill the seat of whatever the newly created fourth district looks like.