Is GOP's Anti-Census Campaign Backfiring?

Karl Rove says conservatives risk being under-counted

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A conservative wing of the Republican party has been taking a strong stance against the U.S. Census under President Obama, warning that it could be used to establish internment camps and urging Americans not to fill it out. But the strategy carries risks for Republicans overall: if conservative-heavy districts are undercounted, they will receive less government funding and less Congressional representation after the 2012 redistricting. The conservatives also risk alienating themselves from the larger party. Starting with Stephen Colbert's skewering of the anti-census hysteria, here's how it could all backfire.

  • GOP Heavies Come Out For Census CBS News' Brian Montopoli surveys the big-name Republicans who are hitting back by publicly supporting the census. They include no less than Karl Rove, who in a commercial for the census says, "If you've not yet mailed back your 2010 Census form, it's not too late. Please answer the 10 easy questions. They're almost the same ones that Madison helped write for the first census back in 1790."
  • Conservatives Already Under-Reporting The Wall Street Journal's Naftali Bendavid reports, "According to Census Bureau figures, some of the most conservative states have among the lowest response rates so far. About 48% of households in Texas and 53% in Alabama have mailed in their forms so far, for example, while the response rate in Massachusetts, a more-liberal state, is at about 57%." This "could reduce the number of Republican seats in Congress and state legislatures."
  • Probably Won't Change Anything  Dylan Matthews at the Washington Post shrugs. "Once all forms are collected and compiled, I very much doubt any GOP-leaning state is going to lose seats due to activist reluctance to participate in the census," he writes. "Participation rates are determined by a whole number of factors contributing to it, from poverty rates to immigration levels to cultural attitudes older and deeper than tea party pettiness."
  • Dems Used to Fear Census The Daily Caller's Mike Riggs asserts, "Ironically, it used to be Democrats who worried about being undercounted because it used to be minorities who were scared of the government!"
  • Shooting Themselves In The Foot  Gawker's Jeff Neumann sneers, "conservatives worry that months of stoking fear among their constituents may come back to bite them in the ass, because a low turn out could mean a loss of Republican seats in Congress. Brilliant move, guys." He writes of the Republican push-back against anti-census fears, "Translation: many of our ignorant constituents have no clue why they're even against the census and this scares me."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.