Census Data and Shifts in National Representation

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December 21, 2010; Source: The Hill | The operating environment for nonprofits is, to a significant extent, driven by public policy and nonprofits play a significant role in gathering census data so many readers will be interested in the implications of the 2010 Census count, released yesterday by the Census Bureau.

Based on population shifts, Texas will gain four House seats and Florida two. Gaining single seats are Arizona, Utah, South Carolina, Nevada, Georgia, and Washington. Losing two seats apiece are New York and Ohio and losing single seats are Illinois, New Jersey, Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

This is the first census ever that didn’t give California an additional seat. Although the nation’s total population grew 9.7 percent since the 2000 Census, it grew 14.3 percent in the South and 13.8 percent in the West compared to 3.2 percent in the Northeast. Nevada had the biggest proportional increase among states, growing 35.1 percent, while Michigan was the only state to show a net decline, just less than one percent.

These numbers are only preliminary, but the implications are pretty obvious. The gaining states lean Republican and the losing states generally lean Democratic. State legislatures’ reapportionment decisions will determine which seats are lost and where the new seats get placed. Nonetheless, many of the 63 new Congressional seats won by Republicans in the last election were in the states that stand to gain through the Census.

However, the results might not be as clear as they seem at first glance. In the list of Tea Party-backed or -affiliated winners in the House and the Senate provided by the Washington Post, the states where Tea Partiers claimed four House seats were the rustbelt states of Ohio and Illinois which both lose total seats based on the new census.

Tea Partiers only got three in Florida and two in Michigan, New York, Arizona, Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Texas. The Tea Party phenomenon, as we have covered here at NPQ, is the most significant political change of the past year and one that has implications for the nonprofit sector and political organizing.

Though Republicans in general stand to gain from the new Census data, how reapportionment occurs in the states with strong Tea Party electoral showings could, instead weaken the Tea Party gains from the 2010 Congressional election results.—Rick Cohen