Census Gives More Congressional Seats to Republican Regions

How conservatives learned to stop worrying and love the census

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Conservatives' former foe, the Census Bureau, is about to new data that will increase their power in Congress. Earlier this year, many anti-government activists refused to fill out their census forms, and Republicans worried the boycott would mean fewer of their voters would be counted. But that appears not to be the case. On Tuesday, the Census numbers are expected to show population gains for GOP-held states like Texas and Georgia--meaning they'll get more members in the House of Representatives--and losses in Democratic strongholds like New York and Massachusetts.

The bad news for Democrats is compounded by their losses in the midterm elections, in which Republicans captured a majority of state legislatures, The Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Weisman reports. The state houses will redraw congressional district lines, presumably for the majority party's advantage. In Texas, for example, Republicans have a big majority and the governor's mansion, and redistricting consultants expect district lines--which will include three or four new seats--to the GOP's advantage. Still, the changes won't do much to change the dynamics of presidential elections. The data would only strip President Obama of seven of the 365 electoral votes he won two years ago.

Some reactions to the news:

  • GOP Must Avoid Overreach, National Journal's Jim O'Sullivan writes. Pennsylvania Republicans controlled redistricting last time, but "the political boundaries they so painstakingly fashioned hardly produced a stable gain for the party." Republicans and Democrats traded control of the state's delegation election after election.
The lesson from Pennsylvania, for both parties, is to pad safe districts, funneling voters from the opposition party into as few districts as possible, rather than go for the maximum number of winnable seats. The temptation to grow overly aggressive can be even greater in swing states, where the parties try to gain more congressional seats instead of opting to consolidate and defend. That creates districts where the electorates are closely divided and lawmakers are vulnerable to every shift in the voting trends--a situation that has been especially pronounced in the last three election cycles, when Democrats picked up 55 seats in two consecutive elections only to see all of their gains (and then some) wiped out in November.
  • And Latinos Could Complicate Matters in Texas, O'Sullivan adds. "How much the GOP can expand the 23-to-nine advantage it will enjoy next year in the congressional delegation is open to question because the state's demographic growth has been fueled by Latinos. Complying with the Voting Rights Act's mandate will make it hard for Republican redistricting officials to create more GOP districts without unbalancing their incumbents' voter base."
  • Dems Look to Minimize Losses in North  New York Democrats, explains Politico's Alex Isenstadt, who share reapportionment duties with their foes, will go after freshmen Republicans in the upstate area. Illinois Democrats, who control redistricting, will go after a Republican and weaken four Republicans in Chicago's suburbs. For the first time, a bipartisan commission will redraw lines in heavily-gerrymandered California. In Texas, Republicans will try to pack Latinos into two districts to make Republican seats more conservative. North Carolina Republicans will try to weaken Democratic districts.
  • Can't Build a Majority If You Don't Have Babies, Ed Driscoll says at Pajamas Media. Noting that Seattle and San Francisco have the lowest birthrates among American cities, Driscoll writes that "it seems rather difficult to build an emerging Democratic majority when two of the most prominent 'liberal' cities in America (very much in name only, given the mammoth regulatory mazes and bureaucratic armies these cities come equipped with) have such poor future demographics."
  • Americans Are Voting with Their Feet, Doug Powers argues at Michelle Malkin's blog.
Americans are fleeing traditional Democrat strongholds ... In the big picture, there are two ways Democrats can deal with this: Admit that their tax-happy, regulation-loving, fiscally incompetent, union favoring, public sector nurturing, debt ridden, sharp edges rounded off, politically correct, smoke free, salt free, fat free, common sense-free social and economic experiments have been colossal disasters--or they can continue to try to nationalize every aspect of America and pursue the extinction of greener pastures as fast as possible so people have nowhere which to escape. Which will it be?"
  • Demographics Explain the GOP's Strength in the South, The Weekly Standard's Jay Cost notes. Fifty years ago, the GOP's "historic heartland" in the Northeast went blue, so Republicans decided to split JFK's coalition of the North and South. This is why the GOP is conservative. Post-New Deal, Rockefeller Republicans "could only survive electorally by blurring the distinctions between themselves and the Democrats." Every GOP president candidate till 1980 followed this strategy, except Barry Goldwater.  "His candidacy was an electoral disaster, of course, and ironically it gave LBJ the kind of congressional majority needed to implement the very agenda Goldwater was running against. But in the long run it was the South and the West that gave the Republican Party the ability not only to win, but to win as a conservative political coalition and to offer something more than a 'Dime Store New Deal.'
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