This week, the government began releasing data from the 2010 census for individual states. The first states to get their information are Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia; the data for all 50 states will be available by April 1. The numbers show how neighborhood populations have shifted since 2000, and will form the basis for the redistricting that will begin later this year. What's revealed in this initial set of numbers?
Minority Populations Are Up--Like, a Lot The dominant narrative of the 2010 census, at least thus far, is that there are way more minorities living in America than there were 10 years ago. "Racial and ethnic minorities accounted for roughly 85 percent of the nation's population growth over the last decade," Hope Yen reports for the Associated Press. "Broken down by voting age, minorities accounted for roughly 70 percent of U.S. growth in the 18-and-older population since 2000, and Hispanics made up about 40 percent." The Post also notes that "the minority growth share in 2010 is the largest in recent memory, with only the influx of European minority immigrants such as Italians, Poles and Jews in the late 1800s possibly rivaling it in scope."
And the Future Holds More of the Same "Some 40 states show population losses of white children since 2000 due to declining birth rates," Yen notes. "Minorities represented all of the increases in the under-18 population in Texas and Florida, and most of the gains in the child population in Nevada and Arizona." The AP story quotes William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, who says that "the new engines of growth in America's population are Hispanics, Asians and other minorities ... But it's just the tip of the iceberg. For the under-18 population -- potential voters in the not-too-distant future -- minorities accounted for virtually all the growth in most U.S. states." Frey adds that "political strategists and advocates, especially in growing states, cannot afford to ignore this surging political wave."
Katrina Pushed the Numbers Around Yen notes that "in Louisiana, New Orleans' population last year was 343,829 people, lower than expected as the city struggled to repopulate after Katrina more than five years ago... The new count was a 30-percent decline from 2000." Meanwhile, "Mississippi's most populous coastal county, Harrison, saw a small decrease in population following Katrina -- the first time officials recall that it didn't grow."
Get Ready for Political Gridlock in Virginia Laura Parker for AOL News notes that in Virginia, "for the first time since the Civil War, the Legislature is split, with the Democrats in control of the Senate and Republicans in charge of the House. That alone may be enough to stall the negotiations when lawmakers meet in April" to draw the new district lines. "Rapid growth in northern Virginia over the past decade tips the political balance in favor of that part of the state, which is more liberal than the rural communities in the southern and western parts," Parker writes. But "Republicans may try to stall. They want to regain control of the Senate in the fall elections, and because congressional districts do not have to be redrawn until 2012, they may try to delay until then."
GOP Can't Be Happy About This Markos Moulitsas at Daily Kos doesn't mince words, taking this as a sign of liberal victory to come. Looking at the shifting racial demographics, he concludes that "this nation is changing, it's changing dramatically, and it's changing fast. One party embraces that change, the other retrenches in a fit of paranoia and xenophobia." Jay Bookman at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reaches a similar conclusion, noting that "Republican legislators and members of Congress consume themselves with trying to deny citizenship to babies born on U.S. soil and to block any possible path to citizenship for those who have come here illegally ... The change is coming, it is unstoppable, and those who treat it as a political threat rather than an opportunity will find their stance a self-fulfilling prophecy."