Redistricting

Redistricting

Census numbers could mean fewer electoral votes for Obama in 2012

President Obama could get fewer electoral votes in 2012 based on the newly released census numbers.

In two years, if the president were to win all of the states he won in 2008, and using the numbers from Tuesday's census data, it would translate to six fewer electoral votes for the Democrat. 

The shift of six electoral votes is obviously meaningless in the context of 2008, when Obama won by 192 electoral votes. But in a close contest, as in the 2000 race between George W. Bush and Al Gore, it could make for a decisive margin.  

Five of the eight states gaining House seats in Tuesday's census announcement were won by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz. ) in 2008 — Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Arizona and Utah.  

Texas will have four additional electoral votes, shifting from 34 to 38 in 2012, while Georgia, South Carolina, Arizona, and Utah are each gaining a single electoral vote. 

Three of the states gaining seats were won by Obama in '08 — Florida, Nevada and Washington.

But of the 10 states that are losing House seats, Obama won eight in 2008.

Democrats pushed back quickly Tuesday on the new apportionment numbers, arguing they are far from a disaster for the party's prospects in the House or nationally in 2012.

They point to significant growth in the populations of traditional Democratic constituencies, particularly in Texas, which will gain four seats.

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Census reapportionment numbers out next week

The reapportionment of House seats will be announced on Dec. 21, the Census Bureau has announced.

The bureau is set to release its first set of 2010 census data at a press conference at the National Press Club that morning.

The numbers will include the resident population for the country, and broken down by state, as well as the congressional apportionment totals for each state.

These numbers are eagerly anticipated because each state will redraw its congressional boundaries based on the census reapportionment numbers.

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Video: Reapportionment explained (updated)

Got questions about the reapportionment process? The U.S. Census Bureau has released an animated video to answer them. It's no “Schoolhouse Rock,” but it does run through the equation for dividing up the House's 435 seats.

It doesn't, however, explain redistricting, which is a state-specific process that begins next year. Each state will redraw their congressional boundaries based on the Census reapportionment numbers, which will be released before the end of the month.


(h/t Swing State Project)

--Updated at 5:17 p.m.

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U.S. population could top 313 million in 2010 Census

Immigration might have swelled the U.S. population to 313 million people, according to a new estimate. And that could increase the political importance of states like Florida.

The Sunshine State is more likely to pick up at least two House seats if the high end of the new Census estimate is accurate.

The estimate, based on a review of birth and death records and a projection of new immigrants as of April 1, puts the country's population at 310 million to 312.7 million, according to The Associated Press.

Those numbers are based on high immigration estimates. Projections based on a low rate of immigration start some five million people lower.

In the 2000 Census, the population was pegged at 281.4 million.

According to the new projections, Hispanics are one of the fastest growing segments of the population, a trend that is likely to continue. The group accounted for 22 to 25 percent of all the growth in the country's youth population in the last decade. Without Hispanics, the number of young people in America would have declined.

"The U.S. population is becoming more diverse from youngest to oldest and Hispanics are the driving force behind this youth diversity," Kenneth Johnson, a University of New Hampshire professor, told the AP.

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Republicans tout new redistricting outlook

As the national environment continues to trend toward the GOP a little more than a month before the midterm elections, Republican strategists say it's putting more and more state legislative chambers in play with major implications for the upcoming round of redistricting.

The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), led by former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, released a new report Thursday that predicted Republicans could take control of another 10 legislative chambers after this fall's elections. 

One chamber the party thinks is now in play on the state legislative level — the Illinois House. 

"That's a pretty good indication of the kind of year we're looking at," Gillespie said on a conference call with reporters. 

The new REDMAP report from the committee, which was set up to focus exclusively on state-level races, pointed to vulnerable Democratic incumbents in at least 30 legislative seats across Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan that were won by President Obama in 2008.

Those states are key for both parties this fall since the current census projections show all three likely to lose at least one congressional seat in the upcoming round of redistricting.  

Republican strategists said Thursday that economic anxiety and concerns over taxes and spending at the national level are trickling down to races, particularly in those three states, and making widespread gains for Republicans increasingly likely this fall. 

"The national environment is definitely reinforcing that messaging," said Gillespie.

The RSLC's Democratic counterpart — the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) — points out that despite the national electoral environment, Democrats have made gains on the state legislative level in a handful of special elections this year. But the committee admits that Democrats hold tenuous majorities in at least 10 states.   

The DLCC is also pressing the argument that Democratic stakeholders need to invest heavily in this year's state-level elections to prevent Republicans from making significant inroads right on the cusp of a redistricting. 

Republicans are boasting that if their projections prove true, it could mean a gain of as many as 25 congressional seats in the long run. 

"Anyone who cares about the long-term well-being of the Democratic Party knows that this fall, the smart money is in state legislative races," read a DLCC e-mail from earlier this week. The DLCC has pledged to spend some $20 million this fall, while the RSLC claims it will spend even more.  

Thursday's Republican report does come with one caveat. It notes that the positive outlook "assumes that REDMAP is fully funded," which the report called "increasingly likely."

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