The Census Bureau on Thursday announced the results of the 2020 survey, and it paints a picture of an America that has seen great diversification over the past decade, as the number of non-Hispanic white people is shrinking.
The census data will play a crucial rule in next year’s midterm elections, as the population counts will be used to redraw congressional and state legislative district lines. As CNN has reported, the once-every-ten years canvassing has Republicans and Democrats scrambling to redraw boundaries in time for the 2022 elections. It will also determine how $1.5 trillion in federal spending will be allocated.
Axios writes the census results are good news for Democrats:
Election experts say the data is better news than Democrats expected — gains in cities, losses in rural areas and a bigger-than-expected drop in the white population.
- “[T]his is a *much* more favorable Census count than minority advocacy groups/Dems had feared,” tweets Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman.
- “[I]t’s a pretty decent set of data for Democrats in redistricting,” the N.Y. Times’ Nate Cohn tweets.
The numbers show that since 2010, more people have continued to migrate to the South and West at the expense of counties in the Midwest and Northeast. Whites continued to be the biggest racial or ethnic group in the U.S. but the percentage of whites declined from 63.7% in 2010 to 57.8% in 2020. That’s the lowest mark on record, and a decline two points larger than was estimated. At the same time, African-American population numbers grew 5.6 percent, the Asian population grew by 35 percent and Hispanic numbers rose by 23 percent.
In California, Hispanics are now the largest racial or ethnic group, growing to 39.4%, up from 37.6% over the last ten years. The number of white people living in the state dropped from 40.1% to 34.7%.
A few other interesting notes. The big city with the biggest growth in the past decade was Phoenix. And the fastest-growing metro area in the country is the Central Florida retirement enclave The Villages.
Something else the Census data shows is that, as has been reported before, population growth is slowing overall in the United States. 52 percent of counties reported smaller populations in 2020 than they did in 2010. Where the growth was spotted was almost exclusively in cities, which experts say is a trend that highlights the urban-rural divide that is a key element in today’s hyper-partisan political culture.
At a press conference at the Census Bureau revealing the data, Census senior demographer Marc Perry said this:
“Metro areas are even more prominent this decade as the locations of population growth amidst otherwise widespread population decline.”
The census data arrives almost four months behind schedule due to various delays. One came from legal challenges to a failed effort by the Trump administration to add a citizenship question to the census form. The pandemic also made data-gathering difficult. Some states in fact, have already missed the deadline to have their congressional maps redrawn.
More from CNN:
Some states have constitutional or statutory deadlines -- set in anticipation that the Census Bureau would deliver the necessary data on time -- that are imminent or in some cases have already been missed.
In Colorado, independent panels have already produced draft maps, which they plan to finalize by October 1. Some states, including Iowa and Ohio, have even less time. Many state legislatures will need to hold special sessions this fall focused on redistricting -- a task they'd typically handle in the spring during their regular sessions. Virginia and New Jersey -- which hold state legislative elections this November -- are proceeding under their existing maps, rather than the new ones that would typically have been in place by now.
Census Bureau officials have previously released data that showed which states would gain and lose seats. Texas is gaining two House seats, increasing its total to 38 — second only to California’s 52. The third-highest total is Florida, which will add a seat, boosting its House numbers to 28. North Carolina, Oregon, Colorado and Montana are also each gaining a House seat.
Seven states each lost one seat, including traditional battleground states Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio as well as traditional Democratic strongholds California, New York and Illinois, as well as West Virginia.
The latest data release offers the more detailed neighborhood-level data that legislatures and redistricting commissions need to draft maps with precise boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts.