The new census numbers not only tell us a lot about the direction of our country over the last decade, but say much more about America’s hopes and dreams over the long term. The thing that jumped out at me in analyzing the constitutionally mandated head count is that while it isn’t an election, the 2010 census shows Americans have no trouble voting with their feet.
For many, it reflects rising support of limited government, but more interestingly, determines what states gained and lost seats in Congress.
While our state gained a tenth congressional seat because of an increase in population between 10 and 15 percent, a group called Americans for Tax Reform found states gaining the most population — and seats in Congress — had several common threads, including significantly lower taxes, fewer government regulations, less government spending, and were more likely to be Right to Work states.
What that says is that for the past decade Americans have been fleeing the heavy hand of intrusive government in favor of places where the market encourages entrepreneurialism and has the ability to create jobs. And not coincidentally, all are states that tend to lean Republican.
States with more than 20 percent population growth include our immediate neighbor to the east, Idaho, which has been aggressively marketing itself to Washington State companies as an alternative to our high taxes, over-regulation, and out of control spending. A drive along I-90 between Spokane and Post Falls is a testament to their success. Many of the shuttered buildings in Spokane still have company names on them, but you’ll see many of those same names on new buildings just across the state line.
Other states in the 20 percent club include Texas, which will gain four seats, as well as Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. In the 15 to 20 percent range are populous Florida, which will pick up two more seats, Georgia, Colorado, and South Carolina (can you say Boeing?). North Carolina, which also falls into that 15 to 20 percent range, fell just short of picking up another House seat by only 15,000 residents.
Meanwhile, traditional liberal strongholds like New York and Ohio will both lose two seats, while industrialized, and heavily unionized New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Iowa, will each lose one, as will Louisiana. In my view, Louisiana is an anomaly due to the twin knock out punches of Hurricane Katrina, which forced thousands to flee the state who never returned — many, ironically to Texas — and the Gulf Coast oil spill which has all but shut down its bread and butter industries — oil and fishing.
However, what is most telling, is that our nation's most populous state — California — in spite of massive immigration, will fail to gain any seats for the first time since statehood. That means even more people are fleeing the Golden State then immigrating there — legally or otherwise.
Joining Washington in the 10 to 15 percent bracket are Oregon, Alaska, Tennessee, New Mexico and Wyoming. The increases in our state, Oregon, and to some degree Alaska and Arizona, are a result of California’s out-migration. Tennessee, Wyoming and Arizona are all Right-To-Work states.
Another telling statistic is that state and local taxes, coupled with per capita government spending, in states gaining enough population to pick up seats are nearly a third lower than in those states losing seats.
The bottom line is Republican-leaning states will increase their power as population shifts from the liberal Northeast Rust Belt to the conservative South and West — where the jobs are.
In spite of President Obama’s overwhelming victory a scant two years ago, this significant realignment is viewed by many as an undeniable indictment of liberalism. I don’t know that I’d agree completely, but there will be an unmistakable impact.
With the Census results comes redistricting. What I’d like to see is common sense political boundaries — such as county lines, as opposed to absurdly shaped, politically gerrymandered districts, such as the 35th here in our state.
But don't expect anything that sensible. While this year's elections have increased Republicans' power in many states, look for the Obama administration not to hesitate trotting out the Democrat's battle-proven, but disgusting class warfare strategy, coupled with playing the race card against Republican state leaders as they re-shuffle Democrats' long-gerrymandered constituencies in a pathetic attempt to neutralize the bad news the Census has delivered.