My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Book criticizes use of census to apportion House seats

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

The Hartford Courant reports that an upcoming book by a Connecticut population expert criticizes how the Census is used to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. According to the newspaper, a series of papers by Orlando Rodriguez, manager of the Connecticut State Data Center, form the basis of the book “Vote Thieves: Illegal Immigration, Congressional Apportionment, and Census 2010,” which is scheduled to be published this fall.

Rodriguez asserts that it’s unfair to use the raw head count to determine House seats, because it doesn’t account for non-voters and illegal immigrants:

But in “Vote Thieves,” Rodriguez argues that representation based on population size unfairly penalizes many Northeastern states and intensifies political polarization. The fundamental problem, Rodriguez says, is that states are given federal representation based on the total count of people there. Apportionment is not made according to voting turnout in states, and not according to those who are legal citizens.

This has two major effects, Rodriguez says. Apportionment by raw head counts hugely favors Southern border states at the expense of Northern and Midwestern states. Those Southern border states tend to have younger populations with low voter turnouts. But the generally older and high-voting populations of the North and Midwest are given fewer representatives and thus fewer votes in the House.

If voter turnout in the most recent presidential elections, instead of raw head counts, was used in assigning House seats, Rodriguez’s calculations show that Connecticut would actually gain a House seat.

It’s unlikely that we’ll see a shift in the way the census is used to determine Congressional representation soon, but Rodriguez makes some pretty interesting arguments against using the raw head count. If you buy Rodriguez’s claims, relying on voter turnout instead could give states an incentive to maximize voter turnout, reduce disenfranchisement and draw competitive legislative districts to draw in moderate voters. And it’s pretty hard to argue against at least taking a closer look at a method of determining House seats that might do that.

Census could shape corporate strategy

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Besides states seeking funding and representation in Congress and workers seeking temporary employment, another group stands to benefit from the 2010 Census: corporations.

The Economist reports that businesses plan to use census data to help them make decisions about where to open stores and what to stock. Target, for example, tells the magazine that it began offering more Spanish-language children’s books and hair products for African Americans after seeing data from the 2000 Census.

And due to the economy, more firms than ever are expected to utilize census data:

According to Zain Raj, the boss of Euro RSCG Discovery, a marketing firm, even more companies than normal will be poring over the census this year. The recession has made them reluctant to expand without good market data, he argues, yet it has also caused them to cut back on research, making the free census data all the more vital.

And some experts predict that this year’s data will lead more companies to push micro-targeted ad campaigns:

Peter Francese, a demographer at Ogilvy & Mather, an advertising agency, thinks the 2010 census will permanently change marketing. When companies analyse the census data, they will see that cities, and even some neighbourhoods, are so diverse now that broad advertising campaigns are no longer suitable. Mass-market advertising, he says, will become “extinct”. Marketers will instead have to focus on reaching specific households—just as the Census Bureau is preparing to do.

The Census Bureau has about 47,000 corporate partners that are helping to market the census, more than double the number in 2000, according to the Economist. It’s clear that the businesses, too, have a stake in the data.

“Negro” has been on census forms for 60 years

Friday, January 8th, 2010

News organizations across the country have reported on the controversy surrounding the word “Negro” on forms for the 2010 Census.

But a Census Bureau official tells NPR that “Negro” has been on the forms since at least 1950.

NPR also reports that 56,175 respondents wrote in “Negro” on their forms in the 2000 Census, even though the word was also included as a response choice.

One of our commenters asked when the Census Bureau last studied the wording for the question, which asks about race, and when we might see some new data. The Bureau told NPR it would examine the effects of removing “Negro” this year.

Use of “Negro” on census form causes stir

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

A question on forms for the 2010 Census uses “Negro” as a response choice, and some blacks are taking issue with the Census Bureau‘s wording.

The New York Daily News reports:

The census form for 2010 features a word more often heard in 1966: Negro.

For many New York blacks, the word conjures visions of Jim Crow and segregation – even if the Census Bureau says it’s included to ensure an accurate count of the nation’s minority residents.

“It’s a bad vibe word,” said Kevin Bishop, 45, a Brooklyn salesman. “It doesn’t agree with me, doesn’t agree with my heart.”

Pamela Reese Smith, visiting the city yesterday from Rochester, said the term was outdated.

“I don’t think my ancestors would appreciate it in 2010,” said Smith, 56. “I don’t want my grandchildren being called Negroes.”

Question No. 9 on this year’s census form asks about race, with one of the answers listed as “black, African-Am. or Negro.”

Census Bureau spokesman Jack Martin said the use of “Negro” was intended as a term of inclusion.

“Many older African-Americans identified themselves that way, and many still do,” he said. “Those who identify themselves as Negroes need to be included.”

The form was also approved by Congress more than a year ago, and the word has appeared on past forms.

Readers, weigh in: Is “Negro” inappropriate or inclusive?

Video from road tour launch

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Did you miss the kick off events of the 2010 Census road tour on Monday? If so, you can catch a short clip from the tour’s launch in New York City:

The road tour vehicles will be posting updates and event locations on Twitter. We’ve compiled a Twitter list with the vehicles’ updates. View it here.

Why the 2010 Census matters

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Sacramento Bee editorial writer Pia Lopez has a piece today responding to SacBee commenters and politicians like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) who want to boycott the census.

It’s a good read, and a reminder that the Census is about more than funding and congressional representation. Here’s Lopez’s central argument (check out the full piece here):

The U.S. census provides an essential portrait of who we are as a people and how we live – from 1790 to the present.

The census gives us a person-by-person, family-by-family, street-by-street, community-by-community, state-by-state set of details about Americans. It is not just “America by the Numbers” – an impersonal compendium of population numbers for a statistical atlas.

Lopez used census information to look into her own family history — and what she found is pretty interesting. The 1900 Census reveals that her great-grandfather was the only boarder on a New York City block of Swedish, Irish and German immigrants. Most could speak English, read and write, but not everyone could.

The census, she writes, gives us details about how Americans lived — and protects privacy because the page-by-page details aren’t disclosed until 72 years later. Lopez encourages those who receive the in-depth American Community Survey to willingly fill it out:

If you get that longer questionnaire, which delves into 40 topic areas – including such things as income, citizenship, disability, plumbing and heating in the house, telephone service, family relationships and educational attainment – just remember that the information won’t be released until 2082. And when it is, it will provide indispensable information about technological change, standard of living and the work people do.

In the short-term, the 2010 Census is crucial for fairly appropriating funds and ensuring just representation in Congress. But for future historians and regular people who want to know their family’s past, it provides a comprehensive yet specific look at American society. The story of Lopez’s great-grandfather is just one of the millions that show the value of the census.

Census road tour updates: Twitter feeds and tour stops

Monday, January 4th, 2010

The 2010 Census Portrait of America Road Tour is launching in New York City today, and we have a few updates on the tour:

There will be one national vehicle and 13 smaller regional vehicles. The national vehicle, which will be unveiled today in Times Square, is a 46-foot gooseneck trailer towed by a dual axle, quad-cab pick-up truck. It’s expected to visit high-profile events nationwide.

The regional vehicles are sprinter cargo vans towing 14-foot bumper pull trailers. They’ll be at a variety of events in their areas.

The vehicles, which the Census Bureau has named, are equipped with GPS technology to track their progress online. Each vehicle also has it’s own Twitter feed.

After the jump, see the full list of regional vehicles, Twitter feeds and locations the national vehicle is slated to visit.

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California relying on nonprofits in 2010 Census

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

In California, nonprofits are expected to play a key role in 2010 Census outreach, but a lack of organizations may hinder efforts in some areas.

New America Media reports that there’s a shortage of nonprofits in some of the state’s poorest areas, which could lead to an undercount in those locations:

“This is a big, big challenge,” said Ted Wang, a census consultant with Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, which is coordinating private sector funding for outreach in California. “Neighborhoods that have the least amount of infrastructure often are the ones that are the most difficult to count.”

San Francisco is a case in point. No county in California has spent anywhere near the city’s $570,000 investment on outreach, according to city officials. San Francisco is also home to 2,879 public charity nonprofits – more per capita than any other county in the state, public records show. But an investigation by New America Media found that despite these achievements, in Bay View-Hunters Point and Visitacion Valley, neighborhoods where the response rates to the 2000 Census were lowest and the need for outreach in 2010 is arguably greatest, there are disproportionately few nonprofits and very little capacity to do outreach.

San Francisco hired 13 nonprofits to do $300,000 in census outreach, but none of those organizations are from the Bay View and Visitacion Valley areas. Nonprofits in those neighborhoods were encouraged t0 apply, officials said.

“We were looking for people that knew the population and the population trusted,” said Adrienne Pon, executive director of the city’s Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs.

City officials hoped to fund a team of nonprofits that were already regularly engaged with the same hard-to-count residents they would be targeting for the census.

But that task was difficult because in San Fransisco and elsewhere, nonprofits tend to cluster in areas with more civic engagement, such as downtown, rather than in poorer areas. That discrepancy could have big census repercussions for California, where nonprofits are expected to play a larger-than-typical role due to the state’s fiscal crisis. California spent nearly $25 million for the 2000 Census, but has cut its allocation for the 2010 Census to less than $2 million. The challenges of location and funding mean that California’s nonprofits have a big task ahead of them to prevent an undercount in the state’s poorest areas.

Find local Census resources

Monday, December 21st, 2009

States and municipalities are launching web sites to provide information about and mobilize citizens to participate in the 2010 Census. The sites are run by local governments or state data centers and provide local jobs, contact info, volunteer opportunities and meeting times.

Many states have already launched sites, and other localities — from Maricopa County, Ariz., to Dallas to Mt. Pleasant, Mich. — also have 2010 Census web sites.

We’ve already written about why Census outreach is such a big deal to cities and states. Both the Census Bureau and local governments seem to be making an effort to develop online portals to educate people. Last month, OhMyGov critiqued the Census Bureau’s site, so now, we ask you, readers: What do you think of the web site your state or city has developed?

After the jump, check out a full list of the states we found with Census sites already set up. Leave any others you’ve found — states, counties or cities — in the comments.

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Happy Labor Day!

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

To the 1.4 million Americans who have worked/will work on the 2010 Census, enjoy your long weekend! There’s a lot of work to be done in the months ahead!

Case of the Mullet Mondays

Monday, June 1st, 2009

In our daily search for the most important 2010 Census-related news, we found this humorous piece by Con Chapman titled “Mullet-Americans Seen as Decisive Swing Vote in 2010″about the demographic shifts of mullet-wearing Americans…Check it out here!

Canvassers, in the wild

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009
Address canvasser in action

Address canvasser in action

There’s no doubt that it’s Census Season.

In the past few weeks, MyTwoCensus staff have spotted multiple address canvassers on their foot patrols across the San Francisco Bay Area, the home of MyTwoCensus’ West Coast staff.

In one case, photographed above, we spotted an address canvasser walking the hilly streets of Potrero Hill, a residential San Francisco neighborhood. As the garage door opened and a curious homeowner approached, the canvasser promptly announced his presence, and his purpose.

The homeowner, curiosity apparently satisfied, let the canvasser return to his work.

With the billions of dollars being spent on this Census, we’re thrilled to say that the canvassers we’ve seen working in person have been diligent and focused on the task at hand: Verifying every single address on every one of the 3,794,066 square miles in the country.

Is this the norm? Have you seen address canvassers in the wild? Are you one yourself? Share your story, photos or thoughts by emailing us at mytwocensus ( at ) mytwocensus.com

Chinese Census

Monday, May 11th, 2009

2010 won’t just be the year of America’s headcount, as China will be conducting its 6th national census on November 1, 2010. Will the Chinese face the same issues that America faces? How will technology be integrated into their counting procedures? What questions will be asked on Chinese census forms? Hopefully we’ll soon know more information, but for now, here’s the story:

BEIJING, May 6 (Xinhua) — China plans to conduct its sixth national population census in 2010, the State Council, or the Cabinet, announced on Wednesday.

The census, which begins on November 1, 2010, will survey population, age, nationality, levels of education, profession and population migration.

The census will also collect data on marriage, housing, and social security of Chinese citizens, said a notice posted on the central government’s official website (www.gov.cn).

Vice Premier Li Keqiang will head a steering committee with members from more than 20 government departments and the army, said the notice.

The last census in the world’s most populous country nine years ago found there were 1.29533 billion people in China.

“The population condition has undergone great changes since 2000. New findings from the 2010 census will provide accurate and scientific information for the government to map out plans for economic and social development,” said the notice.

Breaking News from South Carolina: GOP uses “fake” census for fundraising scheme

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

We hoped that the GOP learned a thing or two after their robocalls backfired prior to the 2008 presidential election, but apparently no such lesson has been learned as they’re up to such shenanigans again in Pennsylvania. Taking the deception one step further, the GOP recently started mailing “fake” census forms to people in South Carolina to raise money for the party. Our calls to national GOP leaders and South Carolina GOP officials have not yet been returned since it is after business hours. We hope to quickly determine how widespread these mailings are and to whom they have been sent (only  to registered party members or to the general public). The Anderson, South Carolina Independent Mail broke this most shocking story:

3rd District ‘Census’ form is actually GOP fundraiser

A fundraising letter sent by the Republic Party National Committee that appears to be an official U.S. Census form for the state’s 3rd Congressional District is not endorsed by U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, a spokesman said.

The letter, and accompanying “census” form, also seeks donations for “strengthening our Party for the 2009-2010 elections.”

Emily Tyne, a spokesman for the congressman in Washington, D.C., referred questions to Barrett’s gubernatorial campaign spokesman.

“He wouldn’t have anything to do with that,” said Jim Dyke, a spokesman for the Barrett campaign.

“He would hope there wouldn’t be any confusion about this Republican Party fundraiser and the actual census,” Dyke said. “The census obviously is of great importance.”

The GOP “census” includes questions on a range of issues and appears to be an official document. On the envelope is the wording “Do Not Destroy Official Document.”

The form inside includes the words “2009 Congressional District Census,” “Census Tracking Code,” and “Census Document Registered To:” and is similar to an official census questionnaire.

Each section contains questions, and Section V, under “Census Certification and Reply,” asks for donations from $25 to $500 or “other.”

At the end of the document are the words “Paid for by the Republican National Committee.”

Dyke said Barrett “didn’t have any control over it.”

B.J. Welborn, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Census Bureau, said official census documents have a phone number for recipients to call to verify the mailing or ask questions. Census workers usually go door to door and have a badge and a hand-held computer, she said, but the agency does mail some questionnaires.

“What we send out is very clearly identifiable,” Welborn said.

“I couldn’t really comment on the GOP (letter),” she said. “We just want to make sure what is from us. If it is a mail survey, it is pretty easy to identify that it is from the U.S. government.”

People with questions can go to www.census.gov, she said. Two census offices opened in South Carolina in 2008 to supervise the current address canvassing operation, according to a statement. The phone numbers are (843) 323-4000 in Charleston and (803) 239-5012 in Columbia. Six more local census offices will open in the state to support 2010 census operations.

A U.S. Postal Service inspector did not respond by press time. An Anderson County Republican Party official did not return a phone message.


Note: MyTwoCensus is hoping to obtain an original copy/scan of the documents and envelopes discussed above. Please send any information/tips to MyTwoCensus @ MyTwoCensus.com.

ACORN’s back (in the spotlight) and its better than ever…

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

We knew that it was too good to be true that we’ve gone through a few ACORN-less weeks. We didn’t hold our breath. Ostensibly, within the next 24 hours, the GOP will be back on the hunt for ACORN’s blood and the left will be dismissive of this “community group’s” abilities to harm the 2010 Census. Nowadays, simply uttering the word ACORN creates the extreme partisanship that is detrimental to obtaining the main goal of the 2010 Census: Obtaining an accurate count.

ACORN has been indicted in Nevada, so here we go again…Here’s the scoop from the Associated Press:

Nevada charges ACORN illegally paid to sign voters

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada authorities filed criminal charges Monday against the political advocacy group ACORN and two former employees, alleging they illegally paid canvassers to sign up new voters during last year’s presidential campaign.

ACORN denied the charges and said it would defend itself in court.

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now had a handbook and policies requiring employees in Las Vegas to sign up 20 new voters per day to keep their $8- to $9-per-hour jobs.

Canvassers who turned in 21 new voter registrations earned a “blackjack” bonus of $5 per shift, Masto added. Those who didn’t meet the minimum were fired.

“By structuring employment and compensation around a quota system, ACORN facilitated voter registration fraud,” Masto said. She accused ACORN executives of hiding behind and blaming employees, and vowed to hold the national nonprofit corporation accountable for training manuals that she said “clearly detail, condone and … require illegal acts.”

Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller emphasized the case involved “registration fraud, not voter fraud,” and insisted that no voters in Nevada were paid for votes and no unqualified voters were allowed to cast ballots.

Law enforcement agencies in about a dozen states investigated fake voter registration cards submitted by ACORN during the 2008 presidential election campaign, but Nevada is the first to bring charges against the organization, ACORN officials said.

ACORN has said the bogus cards listing such names as “Mickey Mouse” and “Donald Duck” represented less than 1 percent of the 1.3 million collected nationally and were completed by lazy workers trying to get out of canvassing neighborhoods. The organization has said it notified election officials whenever such bogus registrations were suspected.

ACORN spokesman Scott Levenson denied the Nevada allegations on behalf of ACORN, which works to get low-income people to vote and lists offices in 41 states and the District of Columbia. He blamed former rogue employees for the alleged wrongdoing.

“Our policy all along has been to pay workers at an hourly rate and to not pay employees based on any bonus or incentive program,” he said. “When it was discovered that an employee was offering bonuses linked to superior performance, that employee was ordered to stop immediately.”

Levenson said the two former ACORN organizers named in Monday’s criminal complaint — Christopher Howell Edwards and Amy Adele Busefink — no longer work for ACORN and would not be represented by the organization.

Edwards, 33, of Gilroy, Calif., and Busefink, 26, of Seminole, Fla., could not immediately be reached for comment.

Masto identified Edwards as the ACORN Las Vegas office field director in 2008, and said timesheets indicate that ACORN corporate officers were aware of the “blackjack” bonus program and failed to stop it. The attorney general said Busefink was ACORN’s deputy regional director.

The complaint filed in Las Vegas Justice Court accuses ACORN and Edwards each of 13 counts of compensation for registration of voters, and Busefink of 13 counts of principle to the crime of compensation for registration of voters. Each charge carries the possibility of probation or less than 1 year in jail, Masto said.

A court hearing was scheduled June 3 in Las Vegas, prosecutor Conrad Hafen said.

San Jose’s Population Milestone

Friday, May 1st, 2009

We at MyTwoCensus wish a hearty Mazel Tov to the residents of San Jose, California, now a city of 1 million people. Unfortunately, this highly subjective number has already been overshadowed by another Bay Area institution, Apple, which just sold its 1 billionth I-Phone app. Oh well San Jose, you had your 15 seconds of fame. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

San Jose has hit another major population milestone — becoming the first West Coast city north of Los Angeles to notch its one millionth resident.

Actually, it’s 1,006,892 residents, according to figures released Thursday by the California Department of Finance that had city leaders pleased.

“Size does matter,” said a proud Mayor Chuck Reed. While not the only important thing, the mayor explained, “it does matter when I’m in Washington or Sacramento trying to get state or national policy changed on a Silicon Valley issue. I don’t know if the absolute number counts, but being the 10th largest city in the country and over a million puts us in a category that people will pay attention to, even though they’ve never been to San Jose.”

San Jose has hit another major population milestone — becoming the first West Coast city north of Los Angeles to notch its one millionth resident.

Actually, it’s 1,006,892 residents, according to figures released Thursday by the California Department of Finance that had city leaders pleased.

“Size does matter,” said a proud Mayor Chuck Reed. While not the only important thing, the mayor explained, “it does matter when I’m in Washington or Sacramento trying to get state or national policy changed on a Silicon Valley issue. I don’t know if the absolute number counts, but being the 10th largest city in the country and over a million puts us in a category that people will pay attention to, even though they’ve never been to San Jose.”

Reading between the lines: The Census Project is in bed with the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Last night, The Wall Street Journal published a blog post by June Kronholz about the likelihood of being counted in the 2010 Census. As the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 Census, MyTwoCensus must point out that this article is written from a very partisan perspective. Kronholz’s only source of data was information collected by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and released by The Census Project. Kronholz writes, “The [census counting] estimates were developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, using Census Bureau planning databases, and released by the Census Project whose members include policy planners, demographers and citizen-rights advocates.”

If you look at The Census Project’s stakeholder list, it’s clear that all of the stakeholders are liberal advocacy groups, and more importantly, one of the “stakeholders” (which translates to meaning an organization that funds The Census Project) is The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the very organization responsible for providing this data…So here’s our advice when reading articles, even from reputable news sources:

1. Read between the lines.

2. Take any information from “The Census Project” with a large grain of salt, as it’s coming from many partisan sources including ACORN, the NAACP, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and other immigrant advocacy groups.

Case of the Mondays? Maybe Christopher Walken and Tim Meadows can help…

Monday, April 20th, 2009

We at MyTwoCensus loathe Mondays just as much as you do. To help alleviate your back-to-work pain, we want to show you the most hilarious piece of Census Bureau-related comedy ever created:

Homeless Census

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

The major census operation that falls outside the realm of the Commerce Department and Census Bureau is the homeless census. The annual homeless headcount is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for any county that receives federal funding, though this number is not a factor used to determine how much federal money counties receive. Since 2002 HUD has published its findings in an annual report (PDF) that is a collaborative effort between the federal government, universities, municipal governments, and outside consulting firms. It will certainly be a challenge for the Census Bureau to count America’s homeless during 2010 Census operations, and it will have to be determined whether numbers from the homeless census are used to calculate the actual homeless population. The homeless census has many critics who are skeptical that the rushed effort (this year’s whole tally took place on a single night, January 27) is an accurate portrayal of homelessness in America.