Blue Shift

27 April 2021


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Census Figures Release Starts Reapportionment Fight


The US Census Bureau issued some preliminary numbers that show where the US population has grown, and as a result, where seats in the House of Representatives will increase and where they will decrease. Only 7 seats are changing, and that is a very low number. The pundits are already opining that the changes will make things easier for the Republican Party to regain the House. They probably won't. The real story here is in the demographic changes to the states growing in population. In a nutshell, a lot of people are leaving blue states for red states. That does not mean they are becoming conservative or reactionaries. It means the red states are shifting blue because those people bring their political views with them.

The states gaining seats are: Texas (gaining 2), Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon (gaining 1 each). The states losing seats (1 each) are: California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. With gerrymandering and other shenanigans, one expects the Republicans to gain both seats in Texas and the seats in Florida, Montana and North Carolina. The Democrats will get the Colorado and Oregon seats, leaving the GOP up three. Given the same political games on the side of states losing seats, the Republicans will lose seats in California, Illinois, Michigan, New York and West Virginia (because there are not Democratic seats to lose in West Virginia). The Democrats will lose one seat in Ohio and may lose one in Pennsylvania. If this is accurate, the net result is no change in the composition of the House.

There are opportunities for each party to steal a seat or two here and there when the redistricting lines get drawn, but once again, what Florida does to boost GOP numbers will be undone by what the Democrats can do in New York and California.

What is flying under the radar of the pundits is the 29 million Americans added to the citizenship lists in the last decade. Most are non-white, most are young, and most lean Democratic. That is hardly a surprise when the GOP has branded itself as the party of old, white men. This has the effect of making red states purple, purple states blue and blue states bluer still. This reapportionment is likely to be the last time the Republicans can hold power by drawing convenient constituency boundaries. The change the country is undergoing now is simply too big to halt as the trend continues.

This is best illustrated by looking at the electoral college. Each state gets electors equal to its combined number of senators (2 per state) and members of the House of Representatives. Change how many seats a state gets in the House, and one changes the number of electoral votes it gets. In 2020, Joe Biden won in the electoral college 306-232. If the new figures for House seats were used, he would have won 303-235. Had Donald Trump won in both Arizona and Georgia (traditionally red states that went blue this time), Mr. Biden would still have won 276-262. The Democratic states retain an electoral college majority, and the movement of people from blue to red states has allowed them to flip places like Arizona and Georgia. 

The reapportionment that lies ahead is not going to change things quite as much as the pundits are saying. Changing 7 seats over all out of 435 does not amount to a big shift but rather a rounding error. The Democrats may lose control of the House in 2022, but they may well keep it narrowly. One expects the changing demographics to have a much greater impact on future elections than the new boundaries will. The efforts to suppress the vote and the efforts to turn out said vote will have a much bigger impact.

© Copyright 2021 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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