Census to show slowing U.S. growth
Today’s release of numbers may reveal figures beneficial to GOP-leaning states.
WASHINGTON — Political activists will be watching closely today when the Census Bureau releases the first official population data today from the 2010 census.
The census will likely show America’s once-torrid population growth dropping to the lowest level since possibly the Great Depression. Demographers believe the official 2010 count will be 308.7 million people or lower, putting U.S. growth at around 9 percent, the lowest since the 1940 census.
The numbers, updated every 10 years, will be used to reapportion the 435 House seats among the 50 states. The numbers trigger a high-stakes process where the dominant party in each state redraws the election map to shape the political landscape for the next 10 years.
In Congress, the steady migration to the South and West will be a boon to Republicans with GOP-leaning states such as Texas picking up new House seats. Some states — including Ohio — are likely to lose seats and, hence, votes in Congress. Q: Why is this a big deal? A: It can help determine who will control the House, state legislatures and even the presidency.
Today’s release launches the process of redistricting, in which each state redraws congressional district boundaries to make each district roughly equal in population — in some cases giving one party a significant electoral advantage.
But the importance of reapportionment is not limited to House races. The number of seats assigned to each state can influence presidential contests because they are used to determine representation in the Electoral College.
Q: What should we be watching for on today?
A: The states with the biggest anticipated changes are Texas, which could gain as many as five seats, and Ohio, which could lose two. Nine states — Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania — could each lose one.
It’s anticipated that California will keep its 53 seats and remain the largest delegation.
Q: How could this affect a presidential contest?
A: Presidents are selected by a vote of the Electoral College, and the makeup of that body is based partly on the number of seats a state has in the House of Representatives. It takes 270 electoral college votes to win the presidency, and the votes occasionally have been extremely close.
Four swing states — Florida, Nevada, Iowa and Ohio — stand to gain or lose seats. A few of the traditionally safe Democratic states could lose seats, and some traditionally safe Republican states could gain.
Q: Which party is most likely to benefit from this process? A: The Republican Party. In part, that’s because the new population numbers are expected to increase representation in the Republican-leaning states of the South and West while traditional Democratic strongholds in the North are losing seats in the House. The story includes information from The Associated Press.