Q&A – Was The Census Rigged Against Red States?


Today’s entry: What do you think about the Congressional Republicans who sent a letter demanding answers about why the Census estimates and final results looked like they were rigged against red states?

Bottom Line: Alright, let’s take a look at what’s happening here. On Friday, 17 elected House Republicans sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce requesting an explanation for why the Census estimates, provided just last December, seemed to deviate meaningfully from the actual results. Most notably, with current “red” states like Florida and Texas not growing as fast as the Census had recently suggested, while blue states like New York held in better than previous projections. Notably, the Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee James Comer was one of the signers as was the influential Jim Jordan and Florida Congressman Byron Donalds.

The theory is that the most recent estimates took place while Donald Trump was still president and was perhaps tweaked to mitigate the political damage to traditional blue states at the potential expense of traditional red states like Florida. The most notable change happened in New York where the December population estimates were raised by around 900,000 people with the final reported Census count. Whether shenanigans played a role or not, that size of a miss, 4.7% of a state’s population, is the largest revision of a large state’s population since the Census Bureau began providing estimates. That justifies an explanation at a minimum. But what was the political difference between the estimates and the actuals?

Arizona, Florida, and Texas had estimated populations revised down by enough that when combined with upward revisions for states like Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York were enough to not gain additional representation. In that example, you do have three blue states with significant population increases from the December estimates being met with three red states seeing corresponding negative population revisions. Coincidence maybe, but worthy of an explanation? I’d say yes. 

The counter-argument would be that if the Census was “rigged” why would New York have only been 89 people away from not losing representation and why would a deep red state like Alabama have fared better than projected? Those are sound arguments. The net of it all is that the final Census projections showed states Trump won gaining four Congressional seats and four Electoral college votes. Instead, the total was three and three.  

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods. 

Email:brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

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