Republicans are celebrating the early census numbers, but the overarching picture runs counter to the current economic and political posture of the party.
There will be a net gain of three House seats and electoral votes in states carried by Donald Trump, according to the 2020 census reapportionment numbers. He still would have been soundly defeated.
The 7.4 percent growth over the decade is the second slowest ever. If that pace continues, it’ll be ominous — with fewer younger workers supporting more older Americans. One of the most important correctives is immigration. The Trump-dominated Republicans have become the anti-immigration party.
While much of the micro data will come out later this year, experts say much of the population growth is with people of color and lower- to middle-income families. This is where President Biden is targeting his proposed legislation, opposed by Republicans.
“The picture of an aging society, and we’ll see, dependent on a racially diverse younger population and paying attention to their children,” says William Frey, an expert on demography at the Brookings Institution. “With some of their policies, Republicans are barking up the wrong tree long term.”
There may well have been an undercount of Hispanics; Donald Trump’s efforts to politicize the census may have been a factor. Texas, Florida and Arizona engaged in little outreach for the census. Each of these states got one less member of Congress — and presidential elector — than anticipated.
The Census bureau will do a recheck, and an outside group is doing an audit. Frey told me, however, while “not perfect,” and despite the obstacles of the pandemic and Trump, he suspects the professional experts at the bureau were pretty close to the mark.
The changes in House seats with the new census may tilt Republican, but the real edge is because they control redistricting in key states. Looking at recent statewide races in Texas, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina — all under GOP redistricting control — Republicans, on average, enjoy about 52 percent support. Yet they have a 56-34 margin in the House of Representatives.