Political Implications of the New Census Data

The Daily Escape:

Nathan’s Batteries, a converted Esso station, Wilkesboro NC. –  February 2021 photo by Greg Kiser Photography

The Census announced the Congressional reapportionments from the 2020 census: Texas picked up two seats, while Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon each picked up one seat.

California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia all lost one seat.

Here are a few quick observations regarding how the Electoral College has shifted since 1959, when Hawaii became the 50th state: (h/t Paul Campos)

  • California, Florida, and Texas have collectively picked up 58 electoral votes (This census is the first time California has lost a congressional seat since it became a state).
  • New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have together lost 38 electoral votes.
  • West Virginia has suffered the biggest proportional decline, losing half its electoral votes.
  • Florida and Arizona have enjoyed the largest proportional gains, tripling (FL), and nearly tripling (AZ) their representation in the Electoral College respectively.

And counting mattered. A couple of the shifts were by razor-thin margins, with New York losing a seat by just 89 people and Minnesota holding on to one by just 26 people. The news is generally good for Republicans. They control the redistricting process for five of the seven new seats.

The Cook Political Report estimates the shifts are worth about 3.5 seats to Republicans, which if no other seat shifted in the coming midterms, would put the House near-even (either 218-217 or 219-216 in Democrats’ favor, versus the current 222-213).

But the most perilous statistic is that Republicans control 61 of the 99 state legislative chambers and almost 55% of the state legislative seats, giving them control of redistricting and ultimately, a good shot at preserving the possibility of controlling one or both Houses of Congress.

In August, the Census Bureau is expected to release detailed information showing down to the block, where nearly every person lives. New legislative maps will be redrawn in each state to ensure equal representation. Right now, the GOP controls more statehouses overall and has an edge in growing states. Republicans will only need to net a handful of seats to control the House.

This is made worse if we remember that in June, 2019, in Rucho v. Common Cause, the Supreme Court essentially gave partisan gerrymandering its constitutional blessing by ruling that local political decisions are non-justiciable.

From Charlie Pierce: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“You have to have some appreciation for what a perfectly complete whole the conservative project is. By pressing every advantage…they have gained sufficient control of the process to defuse most progressive initiatives, to defang most governors if the state happens to…elect a Democrat, and to arrange for the various judicial branches to be their ultimate backup.”

Overall, the US population grew to 331 million, a 7.4% growth rate since 2010. This is the second slowest rate of population growth the census has ever recorded, just behind the 7.3% growth in the 1930s. That decade’s slowed growth was rooted in the Great Depression. From the WaPo:

“Unlike the slowdown of the Great Depression, which was a blip followed by a boom, the slowdown this time is part of a longer-term trend, tied to the aging of the country’s White population, decreased fertility rates and lagging immigration.”

This decade’s sluggish growth started in the Great Recession. Its weak recovery saw many young adults struggling to find jobs, while delaying marriage and starting a family. That blow to the nation’s birthrate was exacerbated by the Covid pandemic.

West Virginia and Maine saw deaths exceed births over the decade.

Most demographers forecast even slower population growth in the coming decades. For the first time, we have more people over the age of 80 than under age 2. The median age in the US is 38, up one year since 2010. Going forward, the number of people over age 65, will grow faster than younger cohorts.

What about counting Latinos? Texas, Florida, and Arizona had been predicted to gain more seats but didn’t. It’s possible that Latinos weren’t properly counted. They make up a large segment of the population in the three states that didn’t gain expected seats. Some point to Trump who tried to intimidate immigrants or people in the country illegally from participating in the Census. Additionally, the pandemic made it difficult to reach certain populations.

Now it will be a bare-knuckle fight between the Parties in most states to win the gerrymander war.

That will be watched closely by candidates across the country who need to decide how redistricting affects their chances of winning an election.

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Monday Wake Up Call – February 15, 2021

The Daily Escape:

Nauset Light, Cape Cod, MA  – February 2021 photo by Michael Blanchette photography

The impeachment trial is behind us, but the Big Lie of the 2020 election, that there was massive voting fraud, remains with us. That Lie is propelling Republicans in many states to try to minimize, or end entirely, mail-in voting.

Republicans have reason to worry. Mail-in voting alone constituted nearly half the votes cast in the 2020 election, a significant increase from previous years. This chart from 538 shows the remarkable decline in same-day voting in America:

Traditional same day, in-person voting has dropped from more than 90% of ballots cast in the 1990s to 60% in 2016, to just 28% in 2020. Early in-person and vote-by-mail now accounts for 71% of total voting.

Overall, despite the Big Lie, early and by mail voting was a remarkable success. It was less prone to errors than expected, and had almost zero documented fraud. As expected, 538 reports that absentee votes broke blue, Election Day votes, red. They only have data for 15 of the 50 states, but it is consistent:

“Biden won the absentee vote in 14 out of the 15 states (all but Texas), and Trump won the Election Day vote in 14 out of the 15 as well (all but Connecticut).”

Trump used this historic change in voting patterns to claim that Democrats used mail ballots to steal the election. Now, in a backlash to the historic trends in voter turnout, Republicans are again looking to make it more difficult to vote.

A new report by the Brennan Center for Justice shows that legislators in 33 states have introduced 165 bills to restrict voting rights. The proposals primarily seek to: a) limit mail voting access; b) impose stricter voter ID requirements; c) slash voter registration opportunities; and d) enable more aggressive voter roll purges.

Many of these bills parrot the same lies Trump used to claim the election was stolen. And they’re sponsored by the same state officials who backed Trump’s efforts to reverse the results of the election.

Remember how narrow the Biden win was: he won three states by a combined margin of 43,560 votes: Arizona (10,457 votes), Georgia (12,636 votes), and Wisconsin (20,467 votes). These three states have 37 electoral votes, and had Trump won all three, the Electoral College would have been tied, 269 to 269. Then the House would have determined the winner, with each state delegation getting one vote. Since the Republicans hold a majority of state delegations, Trump would have won a second term.

It was worse. The WaPo reports that

“Republicans came, at most, 43,000 votes from winning each of the three levers of power.”

Just 32,000 votes would have flipped control of the House to Republicans, while 14,000 votes would have kept control of the Senate in Republican hands. The Republicans have a built-in structural advantage in all three political levers of power: In the House it’s gerrymandering; in the Senate it’s the population imbalance favoring rural states; and in the White House, it’s the Electoral College.

So, beating back voting restrictions has to be a top priority.

Republicans have been restricting voting for years. We were lucky that state and local election officials acted in the best interests of the people and the country. That may not happen next time, so these anti-democratic pieces of legislation must be highlighted publicly and fought tooth-and-nail.

Think for a minute about last week’s impeachment trial: 34 GOP senators representing just 14.5% of the US population can block the conviction of an impeached president. Said another way, the 57 senators who voted to convict Trump represent 76.7 million more Americans than the 43 senators who voted to acquit him.

We should also remember that every state sets its own rules when it comes to voting and counting the votes. And we’ll soon see the impact of Republican gerrymandering, once the 2020 census is complete. The long-term solution is a Constitutional amendment that finally establishes that all citizens have the right to vote, and describes the approved methods of voting.

Time to wake up America! Voting reform must be a top priority just behind beating the Coronavirus and getting kids back in school. To help you wake up, listen to John Fogerty perform his newest, “Weeping In The Promised Land“, released this January:

Partial Lyrics:

Forked-tongued pharaoh, behold he comes to speak

Weeping in the Promised Land

Hissing and spewing, it’s power that he seeks

Weeping in the Promised Land

With dread in their eyes, all the nurses are crying

So much sorrow, so much dying

Pharaoh keep a-preaching but he never had a plan

Weeping in the Promised Land

Weeping in the Promised Land

This is another very powerful video, a must-watch.

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Saturday Soother – October 31, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Mohawk Trail, just off Route 2, near Williamstown, MA – October 2020 photo by Alahomora

Three days to go.

Happy Halloween, although at the Mansion of Wrong, All Hallows Eve is just another day. We’ve never had a human come to the door looking for treats. Let’s hope that tonight’s not the night.

The reality show that is 2020 really sucks. On Monday in NYC, a man fell about 15 feet into a pit of rats when a sidewalk sinkhole opened under him. He was injured and while he will recover, nobody will ever want his nightmares.

And early on Sunday morning, we turn the clocks back one hour when daylight saving time ends in most of the US. This year, more than 30 states considered legislation to make daylight saving time permanent, something that Wrongo endorses.

Roll Call has this about Trump’s closing argument:

“By arguing that the country is ‘rounding the corner’ on COVID-19 in the face of irrefutable data that the coronavirus is surging, Donald Trump risks appearing more and more out of touch with reality.”

But we know cases are way up. This is the NYT’s chart from Friday:

From the NYT:

“As of Friday morning, more than 9,024,100 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 228,700 have died…”

That’s roughly a 2.5% death rate since the virus came to our shores. It seems serious that cases are rising in most states, while deaths are rising in 24. The NYT reports that the top ten states with the highest death rates are: (in order) North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, Nebraska, Idaho, Iowa and Utah.

Most of these states have significant populations that refuse to wear masks or practice physical distancing. Now, there clearly are people in America who won’t work for the common good, because their backs have never really been against the wall. We’ve become a soft, cartoonish version of what our parents and grandparents had to be in order to survive.

Americans play at being tough. Some of us strap on side arms or long guns to go to the supermarket. We complain when the internet is down because we can’t play Netflix or our favorite video game. We melt down on Facebook when someone objects to our little thoughts.

What this moment should have given all of us was a sense of common purpose that united us against an invisible enemy. Instead, it’s simply too hard for us to delay even a moment’s gratification in the face of the second wave of the pandemic.

Notice too that of those ten states, only one (Wisconsin) is a good bet to vote Blue next week. That’s not necessarily a problem, since the path to 270 for Biden looks like this:

If you look at voters in generational terms, Trump has turned into an electoral cul-de-sac. He’s simultaneously losing younger voters by a 2-to-1 margin, while also losing seniors by nearly 10 percent.

If you’re voting Blue this year regardless of your Party affiliation, you are indeed serving a common purpose, one that you will remember forever: When our democracy was on the brink of collapse, when our fellow Americans needed us, we came together to fire Donald Trump.

There are still a few days left to obsess about the election, but its Saturday, and we need our weekly break from the monster that sucks all of the happiness out of our lives. It’s time for our Saturday Soother.

We had snow on the fields of Wrong on Friday, and the weekend is bringing overnight temperatures in the 20’s, so few outdoor plants will survive that hard frost. We’ve still got a tree to plant that is supposed to arrive today, but Wrongo will wait for next week’s warmer weather to get it in the ground.

No coffee today, but a very relaxing video. The music is by Franz Schubert, his No. 4 Standchen from Schwanengesang, which means “swan song” in German. It’s from a collection of songs written by Schubert at the very end of his life. The Schwanengesangs were composed in 1828, and published in 1829, just a few months after the composer’s death. Franz Liszt later transcribed them for solo piano.

So a hopeful swan song for Trump, and a relaxing moment for all of us who listen today. Here the solo piano is played by Vadim Chaimovich.

The video combines Schubert with images of a Van Gogh painting. Pretty relaxing:

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – October 18, 2020

If confirmed, Amy Coney Barrett’s first major case on the Supreme Court could be Trump’s plan to remove undocumented immigrants from the Census count. This will cost states like California, Illinois and New York multiple Congressional seats, and billions in federal funding:

“The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will review President Trump’s attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants when calculating how congressional seats are apportioned among the states.”

A three-judge panel in New York said that Trump’s July 21 memorandum on the matter was “an unlawful exercise of the authority granted to” him by Congress. It blocked the Commerce Department and the Census Bureau from including internally generated information about the number of undocumented immigrants in their reports to the president after this year’s census is completed.

The census does not ask a citizenship question, so how the Census Bureau would come up with the immigration status of people counted is as a practical matter, suspect.

The Supremes put the case on a fast-track, saying that they will hold a hearing Nov. 30. By then, it will likely again be a nine-member court, assuming Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed. It’s unclear how the case will divide the court. But the Census is yet another issue that has been transformed from a largely bureaucratic exercise into a partisan battle.

The decision to hear the case follows the Supreme Court’s earlier decision that the Trump administration could stop the Census count of Americans immediately, instead of on October 31.

This newest controversy involves the Constitutional mandate that apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives be based on the “whole number of persons in each State.” That has been interpreted to mean every resident, regardless of immigration status. But this summer, Trump issued a memorandum that said: “It is the policy of the United States to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status.”

Trump directed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to provide him with two sets of numbers, one that includes unauthorized immigrants and one that does not, “to the maximum extent feasible and consistent with the discretion delegated to the executive branch.”

Thus, the need for a decision about the Constitutionality of counting every person. We’ll see what happens. On to cartoons:

Coney Barrett says she’s a neutral arbiter of the law. Tell that to the Elephant:

Amy Coney Barrett keeps her opinions close to the robe:

It’s a felony to intimidate voters or obstruct voting. Coney Barrett says she can’t say if that’s illegal. The Constitution states that Congress shall determine the date of the election. Coney Barrett says she can’t say whether or not a president could unilaterally postpone an election.

A competent judge should have acknowledged explicit text in federal statutes and the Constitution itself, while reserving the right to apply it to a specific set of facts that might be presented to her.

Our Election Day fear:

Voting no longer takes just a few minutes:

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Saturday Soother – September 5, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Rocky Mountain NP, CO – August 2020 photo by mister69darkhorse

Let’s take a break from talking about politics, and talk about the economy. The NYT reported that the US added 1.4 million jobs in August, and unemployment fell to 8.4%

“Employers continued to bring back furloughed workers last month, but at a far slower pace than in the spring, and millions of Americans remain out of work.’

The August job growth number includes 240,000 temporary Census workers. Most of them will be laid off at the end of the month. Private-sector payrolls, (unaffected by census hires), rose by 1.0 million in August, down from 1.5 million in July. And the results were down sharply from the 4.8 million jobs added in June.

But despite the improvement in the headline unemployment rate, payrolls remain more than 11 million jobs below their pre-pandemic level, and permanent jobs lost increased by 534,000 to 3.1 million. Back in April, nearly 80% of unemployed workers reported being on a temporary layoff or furlough. In August, less than half say what they’re experiencing is a temporary job loss.

At the rate of job gains in the past two months, it will take another 8 months to regain all the jobs lost in the first two months of the pandemic

Also, the shift from temporary to permanent job losses is worrying, because it suggests that companies don’t foresee a quick rebound. It means many of today’s jobless workers will have to start their job searches from scratch. Worse, Wolf Richter reports that:

“Continued unemployment claims jumped by 2.2 million to 29.2 million, worst since Aug 1, as claims by gig workers under federal PUA program soar.”

The PUA program means the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Wolf says that those 29.2 million lucky duckies now equal 18.3% of the civilian labor force.

Most of the media are saying that this report is relatively helpful to Trump. Those who see it that way should explain to the rest of us how it’s helpful to have 18% of the workforce on the sidelines. There will only be one more jobs report before the election, and unless there is a jobs miracle next month, Trump is going to face Election Day with an extremely poor jobs record.

For some context on Trump’s economic performance, the IRS now predicts that the US economy will have almost 40 million fewer jobs in 2021 than they predicted before the pandemic.

We’re maybe a month away from people understanding that despite Trump’s cheerleading, the economy isn’t going to “bounce right back” to near-full activity. In fact the current jobs depression will most likely continue for a long time, regardless of COVID, until there is widespread acceptance that we have a vaccine that is safe and effective.

Once again, there are just 58 days to go until Election Day. Biden needs to stay on offense, and attacking Trump on his poor economy is as good as attacking him on his COVID response. Sometime in the next two weeks, Coronavirus deaths will top 200,000. Yet there are still 17 states in which residents are not required to wear masks outside their homes. And all but one (Hawaii) have Republican governors.

No masks means a continuing weak jobs market. Even the Fed Chair Powell told NPR on Friday:

“There’s actually enormous economic gains to be had nationwide from people wearing masks and keeping their distance…”

But hey, this wouldn’t be happening if Donald Trump was president, right?

One final thought before we leave the politics bubble: Kamala Harris is older now than LBJ was on the day he signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act into law.

On to our long Labor Day weekend, when we can unplug and finish a couple of projects that we swore we’d get to while working from home. Forget them. Let’s get the holiday going with our Saturday Soother!

Start by brewing up a vente cup of Ethiopia Dame Dabaye ($16/12oz.) with its flavors of orchid, red plum, and lemon verbena. It’s brewed by Spokane, Washington’s Indaba Coffee, whose mission is “radical hospitality.” Not sure that’s something Wrongo wants to see.

Settle back at a proper physical distance, and listen to “September Song”, with music by Kurt Weill, and lyrics by Maxwell Anderson. It was introduced in the 1938 Broadway musical “Knickerbocker Holiday”. Here it is sung by Sarah Vaughn, backed by an all-star group including Clifford Brown on trumpet and Herbie Mann on flute. It was recorded on December 18, 1954, and you’ll enjoy Clifford Brown’s long trumpet solo:

Although the song was written as the lament of an old man on the passing of his youth, many women have recorded it, including Ella Fitzgerald, Eartha Kitt, Jo Stafford, Patti Page, Lena Horne and Eydie Gormé.

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Monday Wake Up Call – August 31, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Devil’s Punchbowl, OR – 2020 photo by indieaz. There are many places in the US called the “Devil’s Punchbowl”.

Where did the summer go? We’ve all been tied down by the pandemic, so we probably focused more on politics than we wanted to. Pretty sure that made time pass more slowly, though. So Wrongo’s still not sure where the summer went.

Last week, Wrongo and Ms. Right had lunch with old friends, and the subject of what older Boomers and Silents can do to influence the election was a big discussion topic. Depending on your means, there are many things that could be done, like picking key states and congressional districts that are in play, and donating bigly to candidates who have a real chance to flip the seat they’re seeking.

But perhaps the most important impact would be to help register voters in those same states and districts this fall. For many, that would mean traveling to another state, braving the risk of COVID, while dueling with anti-maskers. When you consider the alternative of four more years of divided government with Trump in power, it may well be worth doing.

It’s important to remember that 2020 is a census year, and Democrats had a huge loss in the Senate, House and in state legislatures in 2010, the last census year. That enabled Republicans to gerrymander many states, making Democrats uncompetitive in those states for a decade.

We can’t risk another huge loss year like 2010.

Paul Rosenburg reports on using a “moneyball” type of approach, based on the famous book of the same name by Michael Lewis. Lewis wrote about baseball teams using the “moneyball” approach to get the best team on the field using the least amount of their limited budgets. The idea of applying it to voting comes from the Princeton Gerrymandering Project.

Like baseball teams, each citizen has a fixed amount of time and resources to invest in politics. The idea is to focus on political races with a high potential either for flipping the US Senate or selected down-ballot races.

You could also focus on Congressional seats, or on state legislatures. In the case of legislatures, the goal is to split or change control of legislatures that will be drawing new districts in 2021. Since only 10 states have independent redistricting commissions (list is here), we should focus on the Republican states among the other 40 to minimize the chance of seeing more unfairly gerrymandered districts like the Republican’s REDMAP project delivered in 2011.

Turing to the Senate, here’s a chart that shows races by current margin, and by what the political moneyball group calls “voter power”:


The red names are Republicans, blue are Democrats. By convention, the race where resources go the farthest is set to a voter power of 100, with the other races calibrated against it. The Montana race has immense voter power, since the state has so few residents. Money or time spent trying to get Steve Bullock elected can go 50 times farther there than against John Cornyn in TX, who has a big lead in a big state. If Bullock wins, that’s likely to mean Democrats will win control of the Senate.

Wrongo’s friends want to see Mitch McConnell defeated in KY, but Wrongo advised not to donate to Amy McGrath, the Dem running against him. It’s a difficult race to win. Instead, they should focus their time and money into races with lower profiles but better chance to win. Like Sarah Gideon running against Susan Collins in ME.

From Tom Sullivan:

“Find…tabs for “Moneyball” states where “a few hundred voters mobilized in the right districts could bring a state bipartisan control of redistricting, leading to fairer districts for a decade.” These include TX, MN, KS, FL, CT, and NC. Voters in those states should examine where their money and effort could do the most good.”

Time to wake up Voters! It is surely the right time to build your list of candidates to support to flip the Senate, and to pick down ballot-candidates to create a firewall against gerrymandering.

To help you wake up, a special treat. Here’s an accomplished guitarist Wrongo had never hear of, Justin Johnson. Johnson is playing an original composition, “Rooster Blues, live on a four-string cigar-box guitar. Sounds fantastic:

Watch it. You won’t be disappointed!

And if you liked that video, you might like him playing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on a vintage oil can guitar here.

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The Looming Census Problem

The Daily Escape:

Breckinridge, CO – July 2020 photo by doughboyme

(The Wrongologist is taking a summer vacation starting today. We will return on August 9th. Wrongo urges all readers to also take a break. Got to get ready for the silly season that starts soon.)

Time to talk 2020 census. The Census Bureau’s follow-up visits to non-responding households were originally scheduled to begin in early May, but they were delayed by a freeze on census field operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April, the Trump administration asked Congress to extend the deadlines for the Census Bureau to turn in their head count data. The Census Bureau independently postponed finishing field operations for the census from the end of July to the end of October.

The House agreed to the extensions, but the Senate hasn’t. Senate Republicans on Monday instead proposed additional funding as part of their HEAL bill to help conclude the census on time, without extending the deadline.

The Census Bureau is required to turn over numbers for apportioning Congressional seats by Dec. 31, and the numbers to be used for redrawing state and local legislative districts by March 30. The requested deadline extensions would push back the apportionment deadline to April 30 for Congress, and to July 31 for state and local districts.

The politics of these decisions are clear. Trump no longer wants a deadline extension, and he doesn’t want undocumented residents counted at all.

The timing of Trump’s memorandum excluding the undocumented and his abandonment of the request to push back the reporting deadlines suggests that the White House wants to ensure that the numbers are undercounted. Also, that Trump  receives the apportionment numbers while he’s still in office so they can be fixed if necessary.

House Democrats are wary of what they see as Trump’s attempts to politicize the 2020 census, and want the Senate Republicans to approve the request for deadline extensions. That would mean there’s a chance the final months of the data-crunching would take place under a Biden administration, assuming Biden defeats Trump in November.

Staying on the usual deadline probably means that many people, documented or not, won’t be counted. Only about 63% of Americans have been counted so far. That means about 55 million households haven’t responded, and will require visits by census takers.

The Census Bureau is about to send its 500,000 door-knockers out to begin surveying households that haven’t yet answered the questionnaire, and Pew Research says it will be difficult to get them to open their doors:

“Among those who say they have not participated in the census, 40% say they would not be willing to talk to a census worker who came to the door…”

The 40% breaks down into 16% who say they’re unwilling to talk to the Census people at all, and 24% say they are not very willing to speak with them.

So, what does it all mean for apportioning Congressional seats?

The job is to use the census data to equitably assign the House’s 435 seats to the 50 states. The first 50 seats are automatically assigned, one per state. A series of formulas called the method of Equal Proportions is used to divide up the remaining 385 seats among the states on the basis of their populations. The method of Equal Proportions was first used to apportion House seats in 1940 and has been used ever since.

The apportionment population of a state is defined as all persons residing in the state as of April 1, plus all American military and civilian personnel of the federal government and their dependents from that state who were residing abroad.

At the last census in 2010, the states receiving the largest number of seats were California with 53; Texas with 36 seats, and then Florida and New York with 27 apiece. Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming each received only one seat, the one they are granted automatically.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia did a preliminary estimate of how the House seats will be distributed once the 2020 census is in. It obviously is a projection, but the results are shown on this map:

Of the 10 states projected to lose one House seat each in 2020, only two are red states. Of the seven states projected to gain House seats in 2020, six are red states.

If the 2020 apportionment followed Trump’s plan to exclude undocumented immigrants, this would be the outcome:

Eight states will lose nine seats with California leading the way. Seven of the eight seats lost would be in blue states.

Seven states would gain nine seats: Texas and Florida would gain two each. Six of the gains would be in red states.

Remember that a state’s votes in the Electoral College are equal to its seats in Congress. It’s not hard to see why Trump wants an undercount that favors Texas and Florida.

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2020 Census Brings Scams, Confusion

The Daily Escape:

Florida Beach in February – 2015 photo by Wrongo

(Posting will be light and variable until March 8th, as Wrongo and Ms. Right spend a few days warming up in Florida)

The 2020 census is about to start. That’s the way we estimate the number of people living in each location in our country. The census is more than just a headcount; it shapes the distribution of political power and government funding for the next 10 years. It will inform the redistricting process at every political level across the country. So Congressional seats and Electoral College votes hang in the balance.

The Census Bureau is running more than 1,000 census ads in the US through July 2020 to encourage all households to participate. The Census Bureau confirmed that all advertisements will include a disclaimer underscoring that participants’ information will not be shared with any other parties, presumably, like ICE.

It’s expected that scams will be everywhere. According to AARP:

– 70% of respondents were incorrect or unsure about whether the Census Bureau would use email to contact them. Actually, all correspondence is sent via US mail

– 35% expect or are unsure whether the Census questionnaire will ask for their Social Security number, bank account information or passwords, or that it will require payment of a fee

It’s clear that the AARP crowd skews older, so you might expect that there would be some level of confusion that could make them susceptible to scams.

In addition to scams, Republicans are taking the opportunity of the census to collect information and raise funds with a form letter labeled “Census”. Here’s a sample:

The document asks questions, some of which are leading and biased, such as:

“Do you approve or disapprove of the Democrats’ agenda to raise taxes, provide free health care and college tuition for all, open our borders to all immigrants, enact dangerous abortion policies, pack the Supreme Court, allow inmates to vote and abolish the Electoral College?”

There is also continuing confusion about whether the census is asking a citizenship question, despite the fact that the US Census Bureau was directed by the Supreme Court not to include it.

A Pew Research Center survey just found that most Americans believe, incorrectly, that the 2020 census will ask about whether each individual in the household is a citizen:

“A 56% majority of the public thinks the census will include a question about citizenship, according to the Pew survey. Another 25% are not sure. Only 17% know that a citizenship question will not be on the census. By demographic segment, here’s who knows there will be no citizenship question on the census:

14% of women, and 20% of men

20% of Democrats and 14% of Republicans

15 to 16% of adults under age 65 and 21% of those aged 65 or older

18% percent of Hispanics and non-Hispanic Whites, but only 9% of blacks

21% of foreign-born Hispanics versus 16% of native-born Hispanics

26% of those with a bachelor’s degree and 13% of those with less education”

Whether this mistaken belief will suppress participation in the census, which is just a few weeks away, remains to be seen. Also, Pew says that certain groups are more hesitant to participate, including black and Hispanic adults. The Census Bureau says it is targeting black and Hispanic populations, as well as some groups of young adults, for additional outreach because they have been hard to count in the past.

The 2020 Census will be the first to be completed largely online, assuming that the Census Bureau’s plan goes off without complications. And Pew says that 60% are interested in doing so. But, the possibility of scamming will be ever-present.

People do have the option to request a paper form. One way to verify that the document received in the mail is an official Census Bureau form is to see if the enclosed envelope to mail it back is addressed to Jeffersonville, IN, or Phoenix, AZ, locations of the Census Bureau’s processing centers.

Like in the 2020 national elections, turning out for, and completing the census is very important to the future of the country.

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