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« Michigan In Trouble | Blog Home Page | Morning Thoughts: The Long Haul »

Population Shifts Toward GOP

The new Almanac of American Politics is out, and statistics within the Bible for political junkies show a rapidly changing American political landscape. Population, statistics show, is draining from the Midwest and Northeast and pouring into southern, sunnier states. It will take a decade for the results to be evident, but one thing is sure: With changes as rapid as these, the electoral college math in 2012 will be dramatically different from what it is in 2008.

Of the ten fastest-growing districts in America, not one cast their ballots for John Kerry in 2004. All but one, Rep. Nick Lampson's Texas 22 seat, are held by Republicans, and Lampson, some will argue, is only back in Congress because his opponent didn't have her name on the ballot. Lampson is a top target of House Republicans next year and looks to be in serious danger.

But the nine other seats are not all safely Republican. Rep. Jon Porter will face a strong challenge in Nevada 03, the Las Vegas suburbs, while Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, of Florida's 5th District, represents a district that held a Democrat at the beginning of the decade. Arizona Reps. Jeff Flake and Trent Franks come in at numbers one and two, and new residents of the state have registered overwhelmingly Democratic, according to the East Valley Tribune. Neither Flake nor Franks are in immediate danger, but a generation from now, the districts will not look the same as they do today.

The fastest-growing Congressional Districts between 2000 and 2005, with change percentage:

1. Arizona 06 -- Flake (+36.3%)
2. Arizona 02 -- Franks (+34%)
3. Nevada 03 -- Porter (+32.1%)
4. Florida 05 -- Brown-Waite (+26.9%)
5. California 44 -- Calvert (+23.8%)
6. Texas 10 -- McCaul (+23.4%)
7. Texas 22 -- Lampson (+22.6%)
8. Texas 03 -- Sam Johnson (+22.4%)
9. Florida 14 -- Mack (+21.6%)
10. California 45 -- Bono (+21.6%)

On the other hand, Democrats own all ten of the fastest-shrinking Congressional Districts. The regions are heavily biased toward the Midwest and Northeast, where an aging population and a waning industrial base are hurting growth. All ten districts are based around urban areas, many of which are hemorrhaging population to suburbs.

None of the districts are in any real danger of going Republican -- save Rep. Julia Carson's Indianapolis-based 7th District, which is only in danger because of a perennially weak incumbent -- but if states and districts fail to keep pace with the rest of the nation's growth, Democratic seats will have to be cut during the 2010 redistricting.

The ten fastest-shrinking districts, with percentage of population lost between 2000 and 2005:

1. Ohio 11 -- Jones (-9.1%)
2. Michigan 13 -- Kilpatrick (-7.9%)
3. Illinois 09 -- Schakowsky (-7.9%)
4. Pennsylvania 02 -- Fattah (-7.4%)
5. Pennsylvania 14 -- Doyle (-7.4%)
6. New York 28 -- Slaughter (-7.1%)
7. Michigan 14 -- Conyers (-6.7%)
8. Illinois 05 -- Emanuel (-5.1%)
9. California 08 -- Pelosi (-5.1%)
10. Indiana 07 -- Carson (-5.0%)

The statistics also show that, when a presidential candidate says they can compete in all 50 states, they are probably exaggerating their appeal. It is highly unlikely, for example, that any Democrat could carry the four states in which Al Gore failed to garner even 30% of the vote in 2000. Do not look for Democrats to spend ad money in Alaska, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.

Neither should one expect a Republican to spend any hard-earned dollars in Massachusetts or Rhode Island, states where President Bush won his lowest totals in 2004 and 2000, respectively.

In all, Republicans still control rural America, and Democrats should be very pleased that the electoral college does not count by county. In 2004, George Bush won 2530 counties, while John Kerry took home just 583 counties.

The Almanac also sheds some light on the more fun side of Congress. For those in Politics Nation who remain true political geeks, it will help to know that New York City was the birthplace of 32 members of Congress, followed by Chicago and Los Angeles at 10 apiece. Washington, D.C., was where just six members were born. Oh, and don't forget that Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich is the only member of Congress to list all the bowling allies in his district on his Congressional website.