For months, government officials have been eagerly awaiting the new census data, looking to learn more about how populations are changing. That data arrived last Thursday.
”Local leaders who choose to use this data make decisions such as where to build roads and hospitals and even how to respond to natural disasters and future pandemics,” Public Information Chief for the U.S. Census Michael Cook explained.
The data will also be used to address redistricting.
The non-partisan Cook Political Report with Amy Walters estimates the GOP could gain up to seven house seats from redistricting alone.
In most states, Republicans will be the group in charge of drawing out new legislative and congressional districts.
Kyle Kondik, the Communications Director for the UVA Center for Politics, says this is where gerrymandering can come into play.
”In a state that has, you know Republicans control both the state legislature and the governorship, like Texas, they’re going to draw the map in the ways that benefit them, to the extent allowable by the law,” he said.
The new census data shows rural populations continue to shrink while suburban and urban populations are growing.
Dave Wasserman, from the Cook Political Report with Amy Walters, found that more than 60 percent of people live in counties that voted for President Biden in the 2020 election. Those aforementioned counties account for more than 65 percent of the country’s net population growth in the past decade.
This would be great news for Democrats if they were in charge of drawing new district lines, but that isn’t always the case.
While Texas has voted Republican in recent elections, Austin and its suburbs have been growing more progressive. Austin includes Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties. The new census data shows that Hays is the fastest growing large country. Williamson County isn’t far behind, at number four.
Because of Austin’s progressive voters and size, Republicans likely won’t be able to gerrymander Austin. However, what they can do is concede Austin and its close suburbs, ensuring that Austin’s growing progressive population doesn’t overtake neighboring conservatives areas in the next census.
This is similar to what Kentucky has done with Congressman John Yarmuth’s (D-KY) seat in Louisville. Yarmuth is Kentucky’s only Democrat in Washington, D.C. Republicans in the state legislature conceded Louisville to keep that city’s Democrats from bleeding into other Congressional districts.
As Republicans control the map in both Kentucky and Louisville, it’s their decision to make.