It won’t matter politically that blue states are emptying and red states filling
The Constitution mandates that, every ten years, the U.S. government must conduct a census. The purpose was to determine how many House representatives and Electoral College votes each state would get. That’s still important, although the census has also been expanded to allocate taxpayer funding, which matters, too. The 2020 census numbers mean that, although blue states are emptying as citizens head to red states, red states will not gain and blue states will not lose political power.
When writing and ratifying the Constitution, the Founders tried to balance power between states with large populations and those with small ones, especially because they were terrified of mob passions. One aspect of this care was our bicameral legislature. The Senate seats two members from each state.
The House is different. It “shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States….” (U.S. Const., Art. I, Sec. 2.) The number of representatives per state is tied directly to the state’s population (“The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand….”) (U.S. Const., Art. I, Sec. 2.)
In the same way, the Electoral College, which actually votes for the president (we voters only vote for Electoral College representatives), also goes by the numbers: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress….” (U.S. Const.. Art. II, Sec. 1.)
Image: Floor of the United States House of Representatives. Public domain.
To determine the number of people in a state, the Constitution requires the U.S. government to conduct a full census every ten years: “The actual Enumeration [of people in each state] shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.” (U.S. Const., Art 1, Sec. 2.)
Doing the census has always been a bit of an inexact art form because, since our nation’s inception, Americans have been a peripatetic people, constantly on the move seeking opportunities denied them in the old country or even, within America, in the old neighborhood. However, for the last few censuses, politics have been part of the fight.
Conservatives want to count only people here legally; Democrats and other leftists want to include illegal aliens (hence their enthusiastic support for flooding the country with illegal aliens who swell the numbers in Democrat-majority states). After all, the larger the state’s population, the more Electoral College votes it gets, the more representatives it has in Congress, and the more money that same Congress sends its way.
The United States Census Bureau is a government agency that has, as its job, impartially counting the number of people in America. Whether it does so accurately is questionable. The Census Bureau contends that its estimates show that, in 2020, it undercounted blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans. That was, of course, Trump’s fault (at least according to NPR). There’s no claim, though, that this affected the allocation of House and Electoral College numbers.
However, what did affect those numbers is that the Census Bureau also admitted that it overcounted six blue states and undercounted five red states:
Now, the Census Bureau has issued a report detailing how a number of states were undercounted while otherwise were overcounted. The states that were undercounted include Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas — all but one of which voted twice for Trump in the last two presidential elections.
The states that were overcounted include Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Utah — six of which are Democrat strongholds.
In other words, this isn’t a question of counting around the margins, among illegal aliens or people who don’t have fixed addresses for whatever reason. When the errors flow in a single direction, they must be viewed as manifest bias aimed at affecting political power.
But this was all in 2020 (the census) and 2022 (the confessions about errors). Why does it matter now?
It matters because of the news that people are continuing to flee blue states for red states:
IRS migration data released late last week shows that California lost more residents than any other state, with a net loss of nearly 332,000 people and more than $29 billion in adjusted gross income in 2021. The state with the second largest population loss is New York, which saw a net loss of over 262,000 residents and $24.5 billion in income. Illinois, meanwhile, suffered a net loss of 105,000 people in 2021 and $10.8 billion in income.
This trend should dramatically affect representation in the House and the Electoral College. That’s especially true because this population shift has been going on for a long time, although it’s accelerated with exponential speed lately. By rigging the count, though, the left has bought itself another decade of disproportionate political power over the House, the presidency, and the distribution of federal monies.
So, the population shift, while interesting, is nothing to get excited about.