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What This Avalanche of Census Data Really Means Politically

In 2017, when Barack Obama left the White House, he had conducted 416 fundraisers in 417 weeks in office. That was an accurate reflection of his political priority — Money.

Remember the 2012 terrorist slaughter of four Americans left without protection or rescue in Benghazi? Their bodies were barely cold the next day before Obama flew to Las Vegas to stage two unseemly fundraisers he refused to postpone.

Another accurate reflection of Obama’s political legacy was the devastation of his Democrat Party at the state and local levels during the 2,922 days of his two-term presidency. That crippled Democrats’ efforts to shape congressional redistricting after the 2010 census and to restore at least some of their ability to enact liberal legislation.

Now, 10 years later it’s time for another round of redistricting, and – Oh, my goodness – Democrats have just barely started to recover politically at the local level.

This leaves Republicans once again to control most of district redrawing to their own benefit for next year’s midterm elections and the ensuing decade. Obama is the GOP’s gift that keeps on giving.

At ground level, these Census changes mean that Republicans will control the redrawing of 187 congressional districts, more than twice the 75 under a Dem pen. Each will seek to draft districts giving their candidates a better chance to win.

You don’t hear about this everlasting Democrat damage because it’s in flyover country and doesn’t fit the narrative of the national media clustered in Washington, just as you did not hear about the looming election upset of Donald Trump in 2016. Media is too busy coddling the codger in the Oval Office and celebrating their party’s control of the House, the White House, and, in effect, the Senate.

The Census Bureau has just begun releasing a tsunami of data based on millions of questionnaires and interviews from last spring and summer. This data will not only shape the next Congress, but will determine the shifting allocations of billions of dollars in federal aid over the next decade.

We now know that on April 1 last year, the U.S. had 331.5 million residents, an increase from 2010 of only 7.4 percent, second smallest in the Census’ 230-year history to the 7.3 percent of the 1930 Great Depression decade.

This time, think aging population, delays in marrying and having children, and slower immigration.

What we also know now is more good news for Republicans. Six states will gain a total of seven additional House seats and electoral votes, most in Republican areas. Seven states, mostly Democratic and in the Rust Belt, will lose House seats and, thus, electoral votes.

Gainers are Florida, Montana, which regains the seat it lost three decades ago, North Carolina, Oregon, and two new seats go to Texas. That’s the result of about four million new residents, many of them financial refugees from California. Such historical internal migration to the Sun Belt continues but has slowed.

Losers of population, and thus House seats, are seven largely Democratic strongholds – Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan for the fifth straight decade, West Virginia, New York, and California, which loses one seat for the first time in state history. “People are leaving costly coastal places,” said one demographer at the Brookings Institution. “And I think California is a piece of that.”

So, states that voted for Trump last year gain five new electoral votes. States that voted for Biden lose five. Seems about right, though it would not have altered the 2020 results.

Another piece of that is the tax situation. It’s no coincidence that two of the biggest population and seat gainers – Florida and Texas – have Republican governors and no income taxes.

While most of the losers like Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York, and California have Democratic governments and governors, who rarely see a spending program that doesn’t demand more taxes.

You probably won’t hear much about it outside D.C., but the House seat losses will set off bitter struggles among state politicians over which local members get consolidated out of a job or must face each other.

On Monday, the effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom was certified as having acquired the 1.4 million-plus signatures necessary to force an election to end Newsom’s term and pick a new governor.

This national reapportionment could have some interesting new wrinkles. It will be the first reapportionment conducted since a 2019 Supreme Court ruling that federal courts have no jurisdiction over charges of partisan gerrymandering in states. Release the hounds designing cockamamie districts that look like Rorschach tests to include or carve out neighborhoods for one party or the other.

With the tightening of most modern presidential races, a few extra electoral votes here and there in GOP territory could be decisive in future Leap Year contests.

The new Census data also helps explain the recent House haste to pass legislation making the heavily-Democratic District of Columbia the 51st state. That would be three more Electoral Votes most likely in the D column.

The haste stems from the looming midterm elections in just 18 months. The president is not on any ballot then. But a president’s first midterms become a referendum on his early performance.

And the dominant historical pattern is that the president’s party loses House seats, as it has in 19 of the last 21 midterm elections. Rarely, however, are the losses as massive as Obama’s party experienced in 2010.

That Nov. 2 followed the imposition of ObamaCare on a strict party-line vote and an impotent trillion-dollar stimulus measure with millions of those infamous “shovel-ready jobs” Joe Biden promised. Democrats lost six Senate seats that day and 63 House seats, the most by any party in 72 years.

More importantly perhaps, Democrats lost nearly 1,000 legislative seats under Obama’s inattentive watch. At the nadir, Democrats controlled only 15 governorships, while Republicans held 34. And in 30 of those 34 states, the GOP controlled both houses of the legislature.

But the invisible damage went even deeper. Among those nearly 1,000 political casualties were scores of rising stars whose elective careers were cut short by overwhelming losses.

In effect, the Obama Blight wiped out one or two generations of younger farm team players, gaining experience, campaign savvy, and vital statewide name recognition for future runs at higher offices.

This leaves today’s Democratic Party with creaky leaders such as Chuck Schumer, who is 70, Jim Clyburn, 80, Steny Hoyer, 81, Nancy Pelosi, 81, Dianne Feinstein, 87. Not much of a softball team.

And oh, look! They’re all from coastal states, the ones where the population is dying off or moving away.