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PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:53 pm 
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Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
The Constitution says we must have a census every 10 years to determine the apportionment of the House of Representatives. While there are error factors in the census (and occassional lawsuits against the results), that part is relatively straight forward: Count the people and then determine how many of the 435 representatitives each state gets based on what percentage of the national population it has (with 1 representative being the minimum possible for any state).

That is where the straight-forward ends and the political begins, for after the reapportionment is over, and those results were released yesterday, each state that has two or more districts must redraw district lines so that all districts have a relatively equal number of population in them (i.e., the number of people represented by each representative should ideally be the same). Even a state that does not gain or loss any districts will still likely have to redraw district lines, as population shifts frequently occur within states as well as between states.

These lines can literally be drawn anywhere however, and this process is often used to influence the outcomes of elections by creating districts that will result in a particular race or political party winning most or all of the districts' elections, known as Gerrymandering. For example, after the right of blacks to vote was affirmed in the 1960s, Mississippi Gerrymandered to make blacks a minority in every one of its districts by dividing up the black-majority areas between districts.

More recently, Democrats and Republicans have both used this process to try to weaken the opposing party, in Texas, Georgia, Florida, and other states. In 2001, Texas was the focal point for how contentious this can get, and ultimately the issue was settled (sort of) by the courts. There have even been cases where a party in control of redistricting has been able to redraw the lines so that an opposition incumbant's home is suddenly located outside of his district.

This redistricting cycle looks particularly contentious, and once again Texas will be at the forefront.
:popcorn:

Image

Quote:
Census shows slowing U.S. growth, brings GOP gains
By CHARLES BABINGTON HOPE YEN / The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Republican-leaning states will gain at least a half dozen House seats thanks to the 2010 census, which found the nation's population growing more slowly than in past decades but still shifting to the South and West.

The Census Bureau announced Tuesday that the nation's population on April 1 was 308,745,538, up from 281.4 million a decade ago. The growth rate for the past decade was 9.7 percent, the lowest since the Great Depression. The nation's population grew by 13.2 percent from 1990 to 2000.

Michigan was the only state to lose population during the past decade. Nevada, with a 35 percent increase, was the fastest-growing state.

The new numbers are a boon for Republicans, with Texas leading the way among GOP-leaning states that will gain House seats, mostly at the Rust Belt's expense. Following each once-a-decade census, the nation must reapportion the House's 435 districts to make them roughly equal in population, with each state getting at least one seat.

That triggers an often contentious and partisan process in many states, which will draw new congressional district lines that can help or hurt either party.

In all, the census figures show a shift affecting 18 states taking effect when the 113th Congress takes office in 2013.

Texas will gain four new House seats, and Florida will gain two. Gaining one each are Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.

Ohio and New York will lose two House seats each. Losing one House seat are Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Florida will now have as many U.S. House members as New York: 27. California will still have 53 seats, and Texas will climb to 36.

In 2008, President Barack Obama lost in Texas and most of the other states that are gaining House seats. He carried most of the states that are losing House seats, including Ohio and New York.

Each House district represents an electoral vote in the presidential election process, meaning the political map for the 2012 election will tilt somewhat more Republican.

If Obama were to carry the same states he won in 2008, they would net him six fewer electoral votes under the new map. Some states Obama won, such as Florida, tilted Republican in last month's election and the electoral votes they will gain could further help GOP candidates in 2012.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said he did not expect the census results to have a "huge practical impact" on national politics.

For the first time in its history, Democratic-leaning California will not gain a House seat after a census.

Since 1940, 79 House seats have shifted to the South and West, mainly from the Northeast and Midwest, census officials said.

Starting early next year, most state governments will use detailed, computer-generated data on voting patterns to carve neighborhoods in or out of newly drawn House districts, tilting them more to the left or right. Sometimes politicians play it safe, quietly agreeing to protect Republican and Democratic incumbents alike. But sometimes the party in control will gamble and aggressively try to reconfigure the map to dump as many opponents as possible.

Last month's elections put Republicans in full control of numerous state governments, giving the GOP an overall edge in the redistricting process. State governments' ability to gerrymander districts is somewhat limited, however, by court rulings that require roughly equal populations, among other things. The 1965 Voting Rights Act protects ethnic minorities in several states that are subject to U.S. Justice Department oversight.

The average population of a new U.S. House district will be 710,767. But each state must have at least one district. So Wyoming, the least populous state with 563,626 residents, will have a representative with considerably fewer constituents. Six other states will have one House member. Each state has two U.S. senators, regardless of population.

The U.S. is still growing quickly relative to other developed nations. The population in France and England each increased roughly 5 percent over the past decade, while in Japan the number is largely unchanged, and Germany's population is declining. China grew at about 6 percent; Canada's growth rate is roughly 10 percent.

The South had the fastest growth since 2000, at 14.3 percent, the Census Bureau said. The West was close behind at 13.8 percent. The Northeast had 3.2 percent growth while the Midwest had 3.9 percent.

The declining U.S. growth rate since 2000 is due partly to the economic meltdown in 2008, which brought U.S. births and illegal immigration to a near standstill compared with previous years. The 2010 count represents the number of people — citizens as well as legal and illegal immigrants — who called the U.S. their home on April 1.

States losing political clout may have little recourse to challenge the census numbers. Still, census officials were bracing for the possibility of lawsuits seeking to revise the 2010 findings.

North Carolina just missed picking up the last House seat, falling short by roughly 15,000 people.

The release of state apportionment numbers is the first set of numbers from the 2010 census. Beginning in February, the Census Bureau will release population and race breakdowns down to the neighborhood level for states to redraw congressional boundaries.

Louisiana, Virginia, New Jersey and Mississippi will be among the first states to receive their redistricting data in February.

The 2010 census results also are used to distribute more than $400 billion in annual federal aid and will change each state's Electoral College votes beginning in the 2012 presidential election.

and more specifically on Texas
Quote:
Fight looms after Texas gets 4 new US House seats
By JAY ROOT, Washington AP

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A surge of Hispanic residents and other population gains have Texas poised to add more congressional clout than any other state, but a partisan fight now looms over exactly where the new seats should go.

Texas is gaining four seats in the U.S. House, twice as many as Florida, the only other state to pick up multiple ones, according to new population figures announced Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. All told, Republican-leaning states will pick up at least a half dozen House seats thanks to the 2010 census, which found the nation's population growing more slowly than in past decades but still shifting to the South and West.

With Texas Republicans using recent elections to fortify their already solid control of the state Legislature, the political process of redrawing the state's congressional map would seem to benefit the GOP, too.

But Democrats say not so fast.

Boyd Richie, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, said Hispanic and black population growth account for the additional seats, and he vowed to fight for a redistricting plan that takes their numbers into account.

"A legal and fair redistricting process must produce new congressional districts that reflect the Hispanic and African American population growth," Richie said. "Our Democratic numbers may be down, but we are not out. Democrats cannot and will not allow our voices to be silenced in this critical process."

The Census Bureau said the nation's population on April 1 was 308,745,538, up from 281.4 million a decade ago. The growth rate for the past decade was 9.7 percent, the lowest since the Great Depression. The U.S. population grew by 13.2 percent from 1990 to 2000. Michigan was the only state to lose population during the past decade. Nevada, with a 35 percent increase, was the fastest-growing state.

The new numbers are a boon for Republicans, with Texas leading the way among GOP-leaning states that will gain House seats, mostly at the Rust Belt's expense. Following each once-a-decade census, the nation must reapportion the House's 435 districts to make them roughly equal in population, with each state getting at least one seat.

In all, the census figures show a shift affecting 18 states taking effect when the 113th Congress takes office in 2013. The political power follows the high population growth, shifting toward the south and west and away from the industrial Midwest and northeast.

With reapportionment settled, the far more politically divisive process of redistricting is set to begin. In Texas, both major parties were bracing for a showdown over the state's new residents, beginning a fight that is sure to spark court action. But with Republican supermajorities in the Legislature, the temptation to run the table will be strong.

Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, said if the federal courts don't intervene to compel fairness, Republicans will likely produce a map that gives their party the advantage in three or perhaps even all four of the new seats.

"It is very easy to overreach when you're holding the map and have the pen in your hand," he said.

Despite the party's recent gains in the November legislative elections, Republicans won't have unchecked authority to draw the state's congressional map to benefit themselves.

Civil rights laws require that the interests of minority voters be protected as district boundaries are redrawn, and Texas is one of the states whose redistricting plans require "pre-clearance" by federal authorities under the Voting Rights Act.

Democrats are also counting on an assist from the Obama administration, which could have a significant voice in the pre-clearance process. It is the first time since the Voting Rights Act passed that the Justice Department will be in Democratic hands during the redistricting process.

Hispanic growth doesn't automatically translate into Democratic growth, though. Two heavily Hispanic congressional seats in South Texas flipped to Republicans this year. There also are several new Latino GOP members about to be sworn into legislative seats.

South Texas Rep. Aaron Pena, who recently left the Democrat Party and became a Republican, said Texas Latinos are more conservative than their counterparts in western states such as California and Nevada.

Pena, who sits on the House Redistricting Committee, said his "educated guess" was that Republicans would get three of the four seats.

"The Hispanic community is increasingly up for grabs," Pena said. "It's truly a swing population."

Texas already had the largest Republican delegation in Congress, holding 20 of the state's 32 seats. In the 2010 elections, the party picked up another three seats, two of them in heavily Latino districts in South Texas. With all the new growth, Texas will now have 36 seats and 38 presidential electoral votes.

Federal lawsuits are essentially guaranteed as part of the process, and if the past is any guide, the courts will have a major say in how the lines are finally drawn. In 2001, the Texas Legislature deadlocked on Congressional redistricting, leaving the federal courts to redraw all the districts. In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered that new lines be drawn in several districts to protect the rights of Hispanic voters in South Texas.

Starting early next year, most state governments will use detailed, computer-generated data on voting patterns to carve neighborhoods in or out of newly drawn House districts, tilting them more to the left or right. Sometimes politicians play it safe, quietly agreeing to protect Republican and Democratic incumbents alike. But sometimes the party in control will gamble and aggressively try to reconfigure the map to dump as many opponents as possible.

The U.S. is still growing quickly relative to other developed nations. The population in France and England each increased roughly 5 percent over the past decade, while in Japan the number is largely unchanged, and Germany's population is declining. China grew at about 6 percent; Canada's growth rate is roughly 10 percent.

The 2010 census results also are used to distribute more than $400 billion in annual federal aid and will change each state's Electoral College votes beginning in the 2012 presidential election.

Apart from the respective four- and two-seat gains in Texas and Florida, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington are all picking up one new U.S. House seat. Ohio and New York will lose two House seats each. Losing one House seat are Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Each House district represents an electoral vote in the presidential election process, meaning the political map for the 2012 election will tilt somewhat more Republican.

_________________
Glenn


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