Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Census Schmensus

The political fallout of the 2010 census is in and the scorecard shows the following changes in the House of Representatives by affected states: Louisiana (-1), New Jersey (-1), New York (-2), Massachusetts (-1), Ohio (-2), Pennsylvania (-1), Michigan (-1), Illinois (-1), Iowa (-1), and Missouri (-1), Washington (+1), Nevada (+1), Utah (+1), Arizona (+1), South Carolina (+1), Georgia (+1), Florida (+2), and Texas (+4).  The shift shows that traditional red states have picked up additional representatives and the all-important electoral votes; strangely weren’t the Republicans telling people not to complete the census?  So what does it all mean?
From the Electoral College perspective we caution the GOP from getting too excited here.  Yes, states like Utah, Georgia, and South Carolina will add to the red electoral total at the expense of the mostly blue states, and in the short term Texas will remain clearly in the red column.  But Washington, Nevada, and Arizona have been blue or purple trending towards blue.  As for Florida, that state is a toss-up and will be a battleground state for the foreseeable future, meaning Bubby and Zeda will have a lot more campaign ads to sit through from their homes at Del Boca Vista.  In the long term, all eyes will start to focus on Texas.  By the time of the 2020 Presidential Election, the number of Hispanics will be equal or exceed the number of Whites, and considering the 2008 results where Obama got 65% of the Hispanic vote and the GOP opposition to immigration reform and the DREAM ACT may suddenly put the Lone Star State in play.
As for control of the House, in the short term one would expect Republicans to recognize these gains, especially if the redistricting in Texas allows for more representatives like Barton and Gohmert…yikes.  While in Arizona, the citizens of the most populous counties Maricopa and Pima tend to alternate between both parties based on the current state of affairs.  The Arizona 5th Congressional District was represented by Republican JD Hayworth for 4 years (2002-2006), followed by Democrat Harry Mitchell for 4 years (2006-2010), and now it’s back to Republican with David Schweikert, who lost to Mitchell in 2008, for 2010-2012.  The impacts of the increase in Florida will depend on the redistricting map because Florida is a microcosm for the US with a diverse population with regional demographic clusters.
When it’s all said and done, the GOP will recognize a pick up on paper, and will recognize true gains if the redistricting in Texas and Florida is done in such a way that GOP candidates could have an advantage due to registered voter demographics.  However, the biggest factor in all election forecasting is the growing number of non-aligned independent voters who will vote based on the economic climate at the time.   In 2012, the President will need to secure his northeastern and western bases plus Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan.  After that, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado will give him another four years.

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