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The Big Story in New Census Data: Latinos Are Driving Congressional Reapportionment

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The New Constituents reportThe Census Bureau announced its initial findings from the 2010 Census yesterday, including, most importantly, which states will gain and lose representation in Congress as a result of population shifts since 2000. While at first clance, the results may look good for Republicans — many of the states gaining seats are historically red, and many losing seats are historically blue — The Atlantic’s website notes that:

“the real Census-politics story won’t be written for a few months, when we find out how many Hispanic voters the country has gained.

“The answer will affect more than just House seats: It could put typically red Sun Belt states in the blue column for presidential elections to come.”

While the Census numbers for Hispanic voters won’t be out until February or March, interested Census geeks can tide themselves over with the predictions America’s Voice made earlier this year in our report “The New Constituents: How Latino Population Growth Will Shape Congressional Apportionment after the 2010 Census.” The report’s predictions of how many seats each state will win or lose match up with the Census results, so it’s fair to guess that the conclusion holds true as well: “new Members of Congress in states like Georgia and South Carolina as well as Texas and Florida will owe their positions, in part, to the expanding Latino population,” while “states that are losing Congressional representation (like New Jersey and Illinois) would have fared worse had Latinos not moved there in record numbers.”

What this means in the long term is clear, and U.S. News and World Report sees the writing on the wall:

“if the Democrats pay attention to issues such as immigration reform, long-term trends could end up boosting the Democrats. Latinos are the fastest-growing minority group in the country, and they are changing the political complexion of states like Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada–all states that went from being fairly reliably Republican to swing states, and which may, in the next decade or two, become reliably Democratic.”