While the political consensus says that the Democrats will lose control of the U.S. House in 2022, the new census numbers released last week reveal some surprising good fortune for the Dems that might make the 2020s a decade of election toss-ups.

The reason is that vast stretches of America are shrinking while most metropolitan areas are growing. From a political perspective, 90 percent of the counties that lost population since 2010 voted for the Republican ex-president, Donald Trump. The large, expanding metro areas almost entirely backed Democratic President Joe Biden.

If you look at the Census Bureau map below, reflecting population changes by county, you see a massive swath of land in Middle America (the orange areas) where the number of people (and voters) declined over the past decade. This includes the Plains states all the way down to Texas, and the adjacent stack of states bordering the Mississippi River, from Iowa to Louisiana.

All of these are Red States. The map also shows that in some Blue States their rural Trump country is noticeably declining – rural Illinois, Michigan’s “Up North,” central Pennsylvania and Upstate New York.

Estimates indicate that the biggest shifts in congressional districts’ partisan leanings from 2012 to 2020 were mostly in favor of the Democrats. If you look at the newest congressional district rankings, with 1 being the reddest and 435 the bluest, the move toward Dem gains is evident among the Top 20 shifts. Seven of the top 10 are in Texas and Georgia – all moving from solid red to toss-ups where blue candidates should be competitive.

All of this is due to demographics and diversification – people preferring urban life over rural localities; growing black, Hispanic and Asian communities; and college-educated suburbanites turning away from the Republican Party.

This population trend does not spell disaster for the GOP, as all of these rural counties were small before and are smaller now – but not in any dramatic way.

However, the numbers obviously tell a much different story in the solidly Democratic cities and suburbs. Consider this one tidbit: New York City gained 649,000 residents from 2010-20, which is nearly more people than what the census found in the entire city of Detroit. A Motown-sized addition to the Big Apple’s electorate.

Gains like that could add up to more Democratic House districts once the new boundary lines are drawn later this year.

But when the redistricting process begins in the states, partisan gamesmanship will rule in many cases as the squiggly district lines of the past undergo a reincarnation. In Michigan, a bipartisan citizens commission will draw the lines for the first time, as the state will lose one congressional seat and Detroit and Flint – Democratic strongholds – suffered dramatic population losses.

Yet, some political observers say the commission’s actions so far suggest they may start from scratch in creating a new Michigan map of 13 congressional districts for the 2022-32 elections.