Thursday, December 30, 2010

Culture: 20 Years, 59 Million Later

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Twenty years ago, I filed the following Student's Notebook report from Bellevue, Washington:
This year, the US Census Bureau started out with a rather aggressive attempt to make sure everyone was counted. The bureau sent out extensive forms to each permanent residence, requiring the forms to be returned by April 1st, but later extending the deadlines well into June and making radio commercials to prod people into sending in the materials as early returns were pathetic.

Meanwhile, local bureau employees were supposed to take to the streets to count the homeless. Though their attempts were well-documented, urban special interest groups contested the figures almost from the start, claiming the bureau had mis-counted by as much as one-half.

The census takers also had the duty to visit households where forms had not been returned. These visits resulted in rumors that some houses had been counted twice, or that others had sent in two forms and been visited but still hadn't been tallied.

Regardless of the objections, the census bureau has now released its final figures, subject only to appeals. Our population in the United States is now 249,632,692, an increase of 23,086,887 from 1980, meaning that each of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives should have 572,466 constituents.

Here in Washington state, our population has gone from 5,346,818 in 1980 to 6,216,568 now, meaning that our state has earned another seat in the House of Representatives, to be carved out of Rod Chandler's 8th and John Miller's 1st congressional districts.

The states that really will gain in influence, though, are California (7), Florida (4), and Texas (3). Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia also gained seats. New York lost 3, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania 2, and Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey and West Virginia all lost a single seat.

What does this mean in political terms? The gains were primarily made in Republican areas, but in the primarily Democratic Hispanic population. We'll have to wait and see.
Change the exact numbers, to a population of 308,745,538 in the United States and 6,724,540 in Washington state, and the number of seats changing hands (Texas gained four seats, Florida two, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington one, while New York and Ohio each lost two seats and Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania each lost one), and the story looks almost exactly the same in 2010.

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