On Monday the Census Bureau began releasing data from the 2020 count of the nation’s population, and the initial reaction was surprise and consternation, with red states in the South and West gaining seats in Congress while several blue states — California, Illinois, and New York — lost congressional seats, a development that could greatly alter the political landscape over the next decade.
Of special concern was the fear that Latinos have been undercounted, which can be seen by taking a closer look at the census numbers, according to Igor Derysh of Salon:
“The Census Bureau announced that Texas would gain two House seats after the latest population count, while Florida, Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon and Montana would each gain one. California, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia will each lose a seat. But those numbers were well short of the projected changes, particularly in states with fast-growing Latino populations like Texas, Florida and Arizona. All three of those states were projected to gain one additional seat apiece, sparking concerns that Latino residents were undercounted, which could have important effects on political power and the distribution of federal funds.”
The reason for the undercount among Hispanics can be largely placed at the feet of former President Donald Trump, who attempted to get a question added to the 2020 headcount that would have asked about U.S. citizenship. Even though the Supreme Court eventually ruled such a query was unconstitutional, just the fact that the Trump administration tried to add it may have done enough damage to result in an undercount of Latinos:
“It caused people to not respond to the census,” Kimball Brace, president of the redistricting consulting firm Election Data Services, told the Arizona Daily Star. “And, as a result, they were all lower than what they were anticipating. … If you got all of those press reports and commentary and everything else talking about how much Trump doesn’t want people to respond if they’re Hispanic, you don’t necessarily have to have a question on the survey.”
Consider the case of Arizona, which saw its total population increase by 11 percent over the past 10 years. But the state failed to gain any congressional seats, which led some to suggest that both Trump and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) were to blame:
“Arizona state Sen. Martín Quezada, a Democrat from Phoenix, faulted Trump’s census efforts for costing the state an additional seat but said Ducey deserves blame too after Quezada’s bill to fund census efforts in areas heavily impacted by COVID-19 was rejected by the Republican-led legislature.
Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., said in a statement that ‘Ducey refused to stand up for Arizona and instead followed former President Trump’s strategy to intimidate Latinos and discourage their participation.'”
In other words, mission accomplished for the GOP, which now gets to gain more political power by cheating, the very same playbook they’ve been using for decades with great success.
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