How The Census Makes Obama’s Re-Election More Difficult

Of course, no one knows what the political environment will be in 29 months, but the 2010 Census is certain to change the Electoral College math in a way that will favor the Republicans. Should the president roll up the popular vote majority that he did in 2008, the new scorecard for 2012 won’t make a difference come Election Day. But if the election is as close as it was in 2000 and 2004, the changes that will come because of the population redistribution captured by the decennial national head count could be a big deal.

The process of redrawing the congressional maps in each state is done by some combination of the state legislature and governor. In states where either the Democrats or Republicans control both houses of the legislature and the governorship, the maps reflect the most brutal kind of political partisanship. In those states with split control, the redistricting fights have historically been the ultimate game of “Let’s Make a Deal.” But, no matter how the congressional district maps are drawn, the number of a state’s Electoral College votes is equal to its number of members of the U.S. House and its two U.S. senators.

In the last half-century, the nation’s internal population migration from the Northeast and Midwest to the South and Southwest as well as the Pacific Coast has resulted in considerable changes in the Electoral College math. Because the Republicans have, and are likely to continue to do better in the Sun Belt states than the Democrats, they have benefited from this population movement over time.

The best guess – and it is more than a guess since reasonably accurate population projections for the states are no secret – is that the following states are likely to gain one seat in Congress and one electoral vote: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington. Texas will gain at least two and probably three. One other state is likely to gain a seat, but it is not clear at this point which one it will be.

Five of those states, including Texas, went for Republican John McCain in 2008, but all except Washington backed Mr. Bush in the close 2000 and 2004 elections – an indication that if 2012 is as close as it was in those two years, this year’s census could give the GOP nine of the 10 votes.

Conversely, Ohio is expected to lose two congressional seats and Electoral College votes while Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania are expected to lose one each. President Obama carried all of those states in 2008 except Louisiana.

Keep in mind these are estimates and the numbers might be off here or there, but there is no doubt about the overall trend. The upcoming changes don’t mean that President Obama won’t get re-elected. They do, however, provide the Republicans with a slight plus that could make all the difference in a close race.

Read more from Peter Brown at The Wall Street Journal

2 Responses to “How The Census Makes Obama’s Re-Election More Difficult”

  1. mvymvy

    Bt 2012, the National Popular Vote bill could guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes–that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president.

    The bill has been endorsed or voted for by 1,922 state legislators (in 50 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado– 68%, Iowa –75%, Michigan– 73%, Missouri– 70%, New Hampshire– 69%, Nevada– 72%, New Mexico– 76%, North Carolina– 74%, Ohio– 70%, Pennsylvania — 78%, Virginia — 74%, and Wisconsin — 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Alaska — 70%, DC — 76%, Delaware –75%, Maine — 77%, Nebraska — 74%, New Hampshire –69%, Nevada — 72%, New Mexico — 76%, Rhode Island — 74%, and Vermont — 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas –80%, Kentucky — 80%, Mississippi –77%, Missouri — 70%, North Carolina — 74%, and Virginia — 74%; and in other states polled: California — 70%, Connecticut — 74% , Massachusetts — 73%, Minnesota — 75%, New York — 79%, Washington — 77%, and West Virginia- 81%.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 30 state legislative chambers, in 20 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, and Oregon, and both houses in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington. These five states possess 61 electoral votes — 23% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.


  2. mvymvy

    On June 14, 2010, after a detailed study of the issue in 2009 involving over 6,500 League members from over 200 local Leagues, the League of Women Voters endorsed the National Popular Vote bill (HB 198) at their annual convention in Atlanta.. "We support the use of the National Popular Vote Compact as one acceptable way to achieve the goal of the direct popular vote for election of the president until the abolition of the Electoral College is accomplished"


Leave a Reply