Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Census Speaks

Well, now we know which states are going to win and lose (and by how much) in the upcoming apportionment and redistricting of House seats.  With the numbers released today, speculation is already beginning on how these numbers will play out both locally and nationally.  The following map gives a picture of how 12 seats will shift across the country:

Texas comes out, clearly, as the big winner with a gain of 4 House seats (followed by Florida with a pickup of 2) while New York and Ohio emerge as the big losers with a contraction of 2 seats each.

For most, these results aren't surprising.  The population shifts from the industrial north and midwest to the southwest and southeast have been going on for decades--and have been affecting our politics for decades as well.  Nonetheless, the quick analysis that many commentators are providing suggests a boon to Republicans.  For example, of the 8 states gaining seats, 5 voted for John McCain in 2008 while of the 10 states losing seats, 8 voted for President Obama.  Further boosting Republicans is the fact that Republicans will control the redistricting process in most of these states--both gaining and losing seats--putting them in position to further pad their House majority.

A big wildcard in thus, however, is the fact that much of this growth, especially in Texas and Florida, was due to the growth of the Latino population.  In Texas alone, Latinos accounted for 70% of the state's population growth.  Latinos now make up 37% of the Texas population (although only 25% of the electorate).  The fundamental question, for both parties, going forward is how they will appeal to this growing Latino vote.  Should Democrats succeed in further cementing their support in this community, they can mitigate some of the consequences of these broader population shifts to traditionally red states.

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