2010 Census and politics: Are economic forces redrawing congressional map?
It's no coincidence that 'red' states, with looser building codes and freer economies, are gaining people and political clout, say analysts. After 2010 Census, 'blue' states look to be the losers.
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The official Census data will be released Tuesday. According to estimates by Election Data Services, a political consulting firm, states that are prime candidates to win at least one new congressional seat are Texas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Washington. States losing seats may include Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Louisiana.Skip to next paragraph
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That forecast calls for the most seats to be gained in Texas (four) and Florida (two), while the biggest losses would fall on New York and Ohio (each losing two seats).
Because America's overall population is growing, and the number of congressional seats remains constant, states need to gain population just to stay even in its number of seats in the US House of Representatives (although each state gets to have at least one representative).
The states most likely to gain House seats tend to have lower taxes than the states poised to lose seats. But that doesn't necessarily mean tax rates are a central factor behind population shifts.
Jon Shure, a state-policy expert at the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, argues that efforts to prove a link between tax rates and migration "always far fall short."
But in other ways, economic policies matter. Mr. Shure says people tend to move among states because of job opportunities. Businesses may move among states because of factors like labor costs and regulations, Mr. Shure says.
In turn, the cost of labor is linked closely to the cost of living for employees. Affordable and available housing is a lure for people to migrate. By lowering labor costs, it's also a kind of infrastructure for job creation.
Harvard University economist Ed Glaeser has done research concluding that housing supply has become the key force prompting people to move to the Sun Belt. These states tend to have lots of land, but also policies that are friendly to builders.
"Those zoning rules have a major role" in promoting the growth of Texas and slowing the growth of coastal California, Mr. Glaeser says.
States such as Arizona and Georgia have benefited from their ability to produce vast amounts of affordable housing. "It's not that these places are in any sense the most productive places in the country," he says. "And it's not as if they have the most pleasant climates."
One big caveat about the political implications of the coming census news: If people are moving to the Sun Belt, that doesn't mean they're becoming more Republican in their politics. To some extent, people from blue states are bringing more liberal politics with them.