Texas could gain up to four Congressional seats
By Leah Carliner & Emma Dumain
The U.S. Census does more than just count people, it also determines which states gain or lose a Congressional seat. According to an analysis by Election Data Services Inc., the nonpartisan consulting firm specializing in political demographics, eight states are poised to gain seats, and 11 states are likely to lose them.
The more seats a state has, the more political power it gains, not only in the number of Members of Congress it has but also the Electoral College votes.
The states that emerge as winners experts say, will be the ones that were able to weather the storms of a tumultuous decade of the housing bubble and the ensuing recession.
In its own study, the Brookings Institute reported that 2009 ended “with the greatest migration slowdown since the end of World War II.”
This week, Congress.org took a look at which states which Election Data Services said are poised to gain in this year’s Census.
- Georgia and
- South Carolina
Texas: Analysts predict that Texas could gain up to four Congressional seats, the most of any of the handful of other states expected to grow.
Many people attribute Texas’ increased population to the influx of Hispanic immigrants flooding in from the state’s borders: between 2006 and 2007, Texas became home to 308,000 Hispanic newcomers, more than any other state.
Robert A. Hummer, a sociology professor and demographer at the Population Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin, says this is a factor, but not the predominant one.
People have gravitated to the state to work in industries unscathed by the economic downturn.
However, “natural increase”—the excess of births over death—is the main contributor to Texas’ growing population. According to Hummer, Texas has a “young age structure” and a high rate of fertility, both exceeding these averages for the United States as a whole.
He added that, as Texas continues to grow and diversify, so could voting habits for the traditionally red state.
“How the growth among the Hispanic population, as compared to whites and blacks, will actually end up impacting future elections, I don’t know,” said Hummer, “but it’s important to keep in mind that diversification has the potential to change the way Texans vote and elect officials, and to move towards a more Democratic majority than we’ve seen in along time.”
The 11 states the Census will hurt:
- New York
- Massachusetts, an
- New Jersey
Want to help save the government money? Send in your Census.
For every one percent increase in the number of people who mail back their 2010 Census questionnaires, the U.S. government will save between $80 and $90 million.
That’s because the U.S. Census Bureau is required to hire field workers to track down the estimated 130 million people who don’t return their questionnaires.
Census data is used to determine how many representatives a state gets in the House, as well as how many votes it gets for president in the Electoral College. (It does not affect the number of senators.)
The 2010 Census process began last spring when bureau field workers went door-to-door with GPS computers in order to verify every address in the United States.
Field workers were looking for all types of homes, even the ones that might exist in hard-to-find places, such as renovated industrial buildings in New York City or rehabbed barns in rural Iowa.
In March, the Census Bureau will begin the second phase of the 2010 Census, when it sends out a 10-question form to each address.
The questions will include things like how many people live in your household, and what is your telephone number.
Field workers will do follow-ups between April and July, and in December of next year, the Census Bureau will send the population information to the president, as mandated by law.
In most situations, giving a total stranger your phone number or address would be a bad idea, so it is important to verify that the person at your door actually works for the Census.
“We make it clear that if somebody feels uncomfortable they should take precautions,” said Eun Kim, a Census Bureau spokeswoman. “Each representative will provide the resident with supervisory contact information and a regional office phone number for verification.”
Additionally, the field worker will usually be carrying some kind of bag or gear that has the Census Bureau written on it, Kim said.
Here are a few other things you should know about the upcoming Census:
- If you mail back your 2010 forms successfully and completely, no one from the bureau will come to your home.
- If you have not returned your form or have not answered each question completely, a field worker from the Census Bureau will only knock on your door between April and July 2010.
- If a field worker does knock on your door you can ask him or her to share with you the following: a valid identification badge, contact information of a supervisor or regional office and a letter on official Census Bureau letterhead.
- A bureau representative will never ask you for your Social Security number, bank account number, or a credit card number.
- The Census Bureau will never contact you by e-mail.