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Census May Give Dems a Boost

It’s said and written often that we Americans don’t take the long view, unlike, say, the Chinese. Their strategies are for decades, while ours extend just a few years into the future.

But what if some American politicians are looking ahead? What if they are laying the groundwork now for the 2024 elections and even beyond?

Now, I’m not a conspiracy theorist. My experience with many politicians doesn’t give me much faith in their ability to concoct really devious, effective plots.

Census Bureau officials have announced a change in their schedule for the 2020 decennial population count. Field operations to collect information will end Sept. 30 — not Oct. 31, as had been planned previously. A whole month of counting Americans is being eliminated.

Consider this: Census figures are used to determine how many members of the House of Representatives are seated from each state. The lower a state’s population relative to others, the more likely it is to lose one or more representatives (West Virginia may lose one as a result of this Census).

That has an effect on politics. Presidents are elected by the Electoral College, not by popular vote. It’s possible to get more popular votes and lose the presidential election, as Hillary Clinton did in 2016.

As I pointed out not long after the that election, Hillary won in urban areas but lost in less densely populated states. The Electoral College has 538 members. Each state has two for its U.S. senators and one for each of its representatives (the District of Columbia gets three to get the total to 538).

So, the Census will affect how many members of the Electoral College come from each state, beginning with the 2024 election.

Thus far, Census response rates from states with more big urban areas are higher, in general, than those from more rural states. For example, California’s and Illinois’s response rates are 64.5% and 68%, respectively. Response rates from West Virginia and Arkansas are 54.8% and 57.8%, respectively.

Beginning to get the picture? Populations in states with big urban centers are, by and large, being counted more effectively.

That will get worse, not better. Is it easier for Census Bureau field workers to find and count people in cities or out in the country? Unless lots more people in rural areas start responding to the Census online, it’s likely there will be more undercounting in rural states — and they will lose Electoral College members.

That will give states with big urban areas — the ones most likely to vote for Democrats — more Electoral College votes in 2024. Who said Americans can’t plan for the long run?

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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