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Changing Demographics: The GOP’s Census Problem

When the Census released its reapportionment totals in December, much of the focus was on the new seats in red states, and how it was a good thing for Republicans.

The data released by Census on Thursday, though, shows how those same population shifts are creating new challenges for the GOP.

While much of the shifting population is moving to red states, there is increasing evidence that it’s making those red states bluer, and most of the demographic trends are heading in Democrats’ direction.

Census Bureau director Robert Groves summed it up best Thursday: “We are increasingly metropolitan today, our country is becoming racially and ethnically more diverse over time … and geographically, there are a lot of areas of the country growing in number that have large minority populations.”

All three of those things suggest growing Demcoratic constituencies. Let’s look at each individually:

* The country is getting less rural: While 82.8 percent of the population in 2000 lived in metropolitan areas, that number is now 83.7 percent. A look at population changes county-by-county shows that many rural counties, especially in the solidly Republican middle of the country, actually experienced population loss over the last decade, while most of the big population growth was near big cities, where Democrats dominate.

* The country is getting more diverse: The minority population has increased dramatically to 36.3 percent and will only keep going down that path, as only a slight majority of U.S. children are white. And Republicans have major problems with minority populations. The black vote generally goes almost completely for Democrats, and even in the GOP wave in 2010, six in 10 Hispanics voted Democratic.

* The areas that are getting bigger are Democratic: A look at the states with the biggest growth over the past decade shows many of them have moved toward Democrats, including Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia (Obama was a surprise winner in all three, which had gone for President Bush in 2004). A look at the county-by-county growth in these states shows that the growth is focused in urban and Democratic areas — Las Vegas-based Clark County, Charlotte-based Mecklenburg County and the Research Triangle in North Carolina, and Northern Virginia all grew the fastest. That suggests that the growth is occuring in Democratic areas.

Now, just because Democratic-leaning demographics grow doesn’t necessarily mean Democratic voters will be created. For all we know, rural Republicans are moving into the city and making them redder.

But if Republicans want to compete in the decades to come, they need to be able to compete in metropolitan areas — likely by reasserting their dominance in the suburbs — and also be able to woo Hispanics, who now account for one in six people in the United States.

If they can’t, the demographics are just going to make it harder and harder.

By: Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza, The Washington Post, March 25, 2011

March 25, 2011 - Posted by | Democrats, GOP, Politics, Republicans, States, U.S. Census | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Is this at least one reason conservatives want so much to reduce or stop immigration? While the emphasis is “illegal”, I think really the desire is less immigration, period.

    Like

    Comment by brucetheeconomist | March 25, 2011 | Reply


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