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.

Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street Journal’

WSJ: Census makes Obama’s re-election more difficult

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Here’s an excerpt from the Wall Street Journal detailing why 2010 Census results may make re-election more difficult for President Obama:

President George W. Bush would not have won the 2000 election had the 1960 map been in use. But the population movement that occurred over 40 years shifted enough electoral votes from states Democrat Al Gore won to states that Mr. Bush won to make the difference. And for that matter, President John F. Kennedy would not have won the White House had the 2000 Electoral College numbers been in place in 1960.

The best guess – and it is more than a guess since reasonably accurate population projections for the states are no secret – is that the following states are likely to gain one seat in Congress and one electoral vote: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington. Texas will gain at least two and probably three. One other state is likely to gain a seat, but it is not clear at this point which one it will be.

Five of those states, including Texas, went for Republican John McCain in 2008, but all except Washington backed Mr. Bush in the close 2000 and 2004 elections – an indication that if 2012 is as close as it was in those two years, this year’s census could give the GOP nine of the 10 votes.

Wall Street Journal: 2010 Census hiring blitz will alter job figures

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

The Wall Street Journal asserts that the national unemployment rate will fall this month, and this is in large part due to the thousands of people who are temporarily working for the 2010 Census. Here’s the article.

Solutions to the Census Bureau’s Statistic Failures…

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Last week we wrote about the Freakonomics article that questioned the Census Bureau’s methodologies for reporting statistics. Well, here are a couple of solutions to the problems as articulated by the Wall Street Journal. (In this instance, our neighbors to the North appear to have their act together better than we do…)

Next Year’s Census Count Promises to Rejigger Political Map

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Here’s an interesting forecast on redistricting as a result of the 2010 Census from the Wall Street Journal (click HERE for the full piece):

By Stephanie Simon

The federal government has hired tens of thousands of temporary workers to prepare for the 2010 Census — a population count that could remake the political map even as the foreclosure crisis makes it more difficult to account for millions of dislocated Americans.

Early analysis indicates that Texas will likely be the biggest winner since the prior count a decade ago, picking up three or four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and Election Data Services Inc., a political-consulting firm. Other states poised to gain at least one seat include Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, Florida and Utah.

Growth in these states is driven by factors including migration from other states, immigration and birth rates. The economic crisis has put the brakes on some of this expansion — Florida just reported its first year-over-year population decline since 1946 — but in general, Sun Belt states have grown faster than others over the past decade.

Since the number of seats in the House is capped at 435, the gains in the South and West have to be offset by losses elsewhere.

New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts and the recession-battered industrial states of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania each stand to lose a House seat. So does Louisiana, where the population still hasn’t rebounded from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which displaced so many residents that census takers face a difficult task in tallying them all.

A state’s votes in the presidential Electoral College depend on the size of its congressional delegation, so the census will likely tilt the balance of power slightly, with reliably Republican “red states” gaining several votes while Democratic strongholds such as New England lose clout.

[Balance of Power chart]

The effect in Congress is less clear, said Karl Eschbach, the Texas state demographer. Texas, for instance, is solidly red when it comes to presidential elections. But Democrats have begun to make inroads in the state Legislature, buoyed by a flow of newcomers from more-liberal states such as California. So political analysts believe one or more of Texas’s new seats in Congress may well translate into a Democratic pickup.

Wrong Info from WSJ’s The Journal Editorial Report on FOXNews

Monday, August 17th, 2009

The below report is a transcript of The Journal Editorial Report that airs on FOXNews and is hosted by Paul Gigot…unfortunately it’s riddled with inaccuracies and fact-check errors. In particular, the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund is full of crap:

Gigot: We’re a little more than six months away from the start of the 2010 census, and if you think the goal is get an accurate count of U.S. citizens, think again. Instead, the Census Bureau is set to count all people physically present in the country, including–that means large numbers who could be here illegally. That could give states with high rates of illegal immigration a big advantage when it comes to reapportioning congressional seats. One big winner, potentially: California, which stands to gain nine more seats in Congress than it would if only U.S. citizens were counted. States like Ohio, Louisiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania could be among the losers.

We’re back with Dan Henninger and John Fund, and Wall Street Journal editorial board member Jason Riley also joins the panel.

All right. John, are the–is the census set to count an awful lot of illegals as part of its count?

Fund: Yes, the Census Bureau says its job is to count everyone in the country–I assume that includes illegal aliens and tourists–and make that part of the census count.

Gigot: Tourists? They’re going to catch them at the airport?

Fund: Or the hotel. The problem is the Census Bureau, for the first time, is not going to be asking on the census form if you’re a citizen, so there’s no way of telling who they’re counting, whether they’re a citizen or not. And I think this is highly dangerous, because the Census was originally designed to count citizens and permanent residents of the United States. In the last 10 years, we’ve had a large increase in illegal immigration. There’s somewhere between 7 million and 12 million illegal aliens in this country. Adding them into the decision about which states get how many House seats really will dramatically change our politics.

Gigot: All right, Jason, do you agree with that?

Riley: No, I don’t. I think the 14th Amendment is pretty clear. It says, quote, “Count the whole number of persons in each state.” There may be residents of these states that are illegal, but they’re still residents, and according to the Constitution, John, they have to be counted. The idea that Census Bureau administrators can arbitrarily decide not to count certain people is legally dubious and probably unconstitutional.

But the second point to make, I think, is that the census is more than just about reapportioning members of Congress. It’s also going to determine federal funds, some $3 trillion in the allocation of federal funds over the next 10 years. Why should border states, who are bearing the brunt of these illegal immigrants, be punished for the federal government’s inability to take care of our illegal immigration problem?

Gigot: He has a point, Dan. I mean, Jason says, look, if the people are in the states and they have to pay for the people who are in these states for services whether they’re illegal or not, they should be allowed to have that counted because they’ll have access to the money.

Henninger: Well, you know, I think, Jason, though, what you’re suggesting is something of an abstraction. As a practical matter, the Census Bureau could–

Gigot: Money isn’t an abstraction.

Henninger: No, but counting people is real. You have to–the census goes out and takes a physical, in-place head count of the sort we were showing in the video on the screen. You don’t mean to think they’re going to go out and knock on the doors where the illegal immigrants live and they’re going to answer the door and say, “Oh, yeah, I’m be happy to fill this census form”–when they’re in hiding? So then it leads you to something we’ve talked about on this program before called statistical sampling, in which you use statistics to sort of estimate how many people are, which is what a lot of groups representing blacks, Hispanics, even Japanese, have wanted the Census Bureau to do. And they’ve resisted for years because it’s just an inaccurate account.

Riley: And the current director says he won’t do that.

Henninger: And this leads to a complete morass if you start trying to count people who are in hiding.

Fund: Paul, and the current Census Bureau director is someone who originally started this sampling process, so he’s very much in favor of it. In addition–

Gigot: But he said–wait a minute, John.

Riley: He said, on the record, that he wouldn’t do it, John.

Gigot: He has said, on the record, that he will not do it.

Fund: As far as I know, and from my sources inside the Census Department, they are preparing to use sampling techniques next year.

Gigot: John, let me ask you about the constitutional argument here. Eugene Volokh, a conservative constitutional scholar, among others, agrees with Jason and says, Look, if you’re going to change and you want to count only citizens, then you’ve got to have to have a constitutional amendment, because the 14th Amendment says what it says.

Fund: Well, what has been done in the past is you’ve had two separate numbers, one that could be used, in theory, to apportion the money that these border states, for example, have to bear costs from illegal aliens, and the other to reapportion the House districts. So I think you can do something that I think preserves the original intent of the Constitution and also takes into account the need for federal money to be allocated fairly.

Gigot: Well, but in terms of the allocation of representation, the small states are already–are overrepresented by population in the Senate, so they do get, regardless of the census count, a fairly good representation in the United States.

Fund: But the distortions are now becoming so large. If California has nine more congressmen and -women than it’s allowed normally, that’s an enormous distortion of our political process. And it’s no longer a small one we can ignore.

Riley: I doubt that nine–that California’s going to get nine more congressman, John, I think other indications show there’s been a lot of outmigration from California and Northeastern states as well.

Wall Street Journal Fact-Checking Blunder

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

The following report comes from The Rose Institute for State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College in California:

By Douglas M. Johnson, Consulting Fellow

On August 10th, the Wall Street Journal unfortunately ran a factually inaccurate op-ed piece written by John Baker and Elliott Stonecipher entitled “Our Unconstitutional Census.”

The authors wanted to discuss whether illegal immigrants should be counted in the Census and for Congressional reapportionment. As an academic with a keen (some say obsessive) interest in the Census, I was interested to read their views. I was, however, deeply disappointed when I read their piece. The op-ed lacked any basis in reality and instead was based on a dual problems of bad mathematics and ignorance of the Constitution. I am mystified by how the inaccuracies of this article escaped the Journal’s fact-checking, as even a Google search would reveal the problematic foundation of the piece.

The authors claim that “the first Census Act” defined who would count for the apportionment of Congressional seats among the states and “Because the census (since at least 1980) has not distinguished citizens and permanent, legal residents from individuals here illegally, the basis for apportionment of House seats has been skewed.”  This assertion is the basis of their headline “Unconstitutional Census.” Unfortunately for the authors, they are wrong on this point that lies at the very heart of their argument is wrong.

It is not “the first Census Act” nor Census Bureau decisions that result in what they call an “unconstitutional” count. In fact, the definition of who counts for apportionment comes directly from Section 2 of the 14th Amendment: “”Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State.”

Apportionment is done based on “persons” because that is the direct wording of the Constitution. The direct wording of the Constitution, unfortunately for the authors, clearly cannot be “Unconstitutional.”

Sadly, the authors’ craving for a headline and the Journal’s fact-checking failures did not end with just that fundamental flaw. They continue: “Based on our round-number projection of a decade-end population in that state of 37,000,000 (including 5,750,000 noncitizens), California would have 57 members in the newly reapportioned U.S. House of Representatives.  However, with noncitizens not included for purposes of reapportionment, California would have 48 House seats.” This is absurd. As every study by both EDS and Polidata have shown, California will be lucky to hold on to its current 53 Congressional districts after the 2010 Census, and may drop to 52. My guess is that either the authors calculated population growth in California since 2000 and ignored growth in the rest of the country over that time period, or they lack knowledge about how the apportionment of districts is calculated (for example, they may not know that each state is guaranteed one Congressional district, and those districts must be assigned before calculations of districts per state and remainder populations are made).

There is a serious policy question to debate: should illegal immigrants be counted for the purpose of Congressional district apportionment? But the debate must acknowledge that any change to that policy requires a constitutional amendment, not a statue or Census Bureau administrative decision.

The authors of this piece argue a constitutional question without reading the Constitution, and double their error through the use of bad math. This article achieved their goal — a headline in the Journal — but it does not improve the public debate or move us any closer to agreement on the answer.

Rebuttal To WSJ Op-Ed

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Two days ago, we posted an op-ed that was published in the Wall Street Journal that called the 2010 Census unconstitutional. Well, Myrna Perez of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law shot back with the following piece:

Accounting for the Census Clause

In the inaccurately titled opinion piece (“Our Unconstitutional Census“) published on August 9 in the Wall Street Journal, Messrs. Baker and Stonecipher, a constitutional law professor and pollster respectively, falsely claim that the current practice of counting undocumented persons in the census for the purpose of apportionment is unconstitutional.

The “Census clause” or sometimes called the “Enumeration clause” is found in Article I, 1, § 2, cl. 3 of Constitution.  After taking into account the removal and additions that have occurred with later amendments, that clause reads as follows:  “Representatives . . . shall be apportioned among the several States . . . according to their respective Numbers . . . . The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.”  Further, Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment states that “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.”

The Constitution uses the word “numbers” or “persons” — not “citizens,” or “legal residents,” or “those lawfully present” as the authors suggest.  Moreover, the Constitution wholly and explicitly empowers Congress to sort out the details.  The express delegation of the responsibility to Congress makes it odd that part of their opinion piece casts Congress fulfilling its constitutional obligations to make the policy determinations guiding the census as a bad thing.

In a move that is sure to irk “strict constructionists” the authors ignore the plain text of the Constitution and cite enabling legislation for support, arguing that the name of first census act used the word “inhabitant” and that the contemporaneous definition of that word were persons entitled to the privileges conferred by the state, which would exclude unlawful residents.  The word “inhabitant,” is not used in the Constitution’s Census clause, but is instead used when describing qualifications of Representatives and Senators.  In the Qualification clauses, the word “inhabitant” probably fairly means what the authors say it means.  But, it is improper for the authors to import a word from other sections of the Constitution into a clause where the framers deliberate and purposely omitted that word and claim that the word is controlling.

Even if Congressional understanding of the Constitution trumps its plain text, the first census act actually suggests reaching a contrary conclusion because that act counted slaves and non-white free persons.  It required the district marshals to swear or affirm an oath that they would undertake a “just and perfect enumeration and description of all persons resident within my district.”  Those facts mean that Congress at least had a more expansive view of “inhabitants” than the authors would allow, and as the Constitution indicates, Congress gets to make the call as to the details.

The authors invoke the Wesberry v. Sanders principle that there should be rough equivalents of voting citizens in state legislative districts.  Justice Rehnquist, however, in an opinion in the mid-90s rejected the application of the Wesberry principle to Congress when conducting the census.  He also noted that the Court had reached the same conclusion on two prior occasions because of the latitude given to Congress under the Constitution and because the districts at issue in Wesberry were intra-state, but federal apportionment required interstate review which could not be done with the same precision.  Even the Supreme Court disagrees with the authors.

There are good policy reasons for including all residents in a state when conducting apportionment.  A district’s representation affects everyone in the district; moreover a district’s representation is impacted by everyone in the district.

The authors may disagree that apportionments should be influenced by enumerations of undocumented persons, but it is false that the current practice of doing so is unconstitutional.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin Wants To Steal Your Federal Dollars

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Thanks to Corey Dade of the Wall Street Journal for the story below:

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is calling on former residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to claim their old city addresses in next year’s census, drawing criticism for trying to circumvent rules for winning federal funds.

The mayor — encouraged that New Orleans has thrown off its post-Katrina malaise to become the U.S.’s fastest-growing big city by percentage — wants the U.S. Census Bureau to grant an exception for its former residents, currently living elsewhere, who want to rebuild homes in New Orleans.

There’s one problem: The mayor’s plan is illegal, according to the Census Bureau. Federal law requires the Census Bureau to count all U.S. residents where they reside as of April 1, 2010, when the nationwide tally will begin.

“Any individual who does something like that is going to hurt the place where they are living, and hurt New Orleans,” said Katherine Smith, a Census Bureau spokeswoman.

The stakes for localities are high. The census, which occurs every 10 years, is used to determine the disbursement of more than $300 billion in federal grants, as well as the reapportionment of congressional and state legislative seats for the next decade. Both procedures are based primarily on population size, with the largest jurisdictions traditionally receiving the most dollars and elected representatives.

Officials in other Louisiana cities criticized Mr. Nagin for threatening their efforts to secure funds for legitimate population gains, some of which resulted from Katrina victims fleeing New Orleans and surrounding parishes. One parish is Lafayette, located west of New Orleans, where the parish seat — the city of Lafayette — is the state’s only city to show a net population gain since 2000.

Inside the 2010 Census form: Question #8 and Charlie Rangel

Monday, May 18th, 2009

June Kronholtz, who covers the 2010 Census for The Wall Street Journal, just reported on long-term Rep. Charlie Rangel’s latest wrangling (okay, it’s Monday, we want to be funny and use puns to keep you on your toes):

Race and ethnicity already are complicated questions in the decennial census. Now, Rep. Charles Rangel and a fellow New York Democrat want to make them even more complex.

Question 8 in the 2010 census form asks if the person being counted is “of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin” and, if so, from where. That person has a choice of four check boxes:
–Yes, he or she is Mexican, Mexican American or Chicano
–Yes, he or she is Puerto Rican
–Yes, he or she is Cuban or
–Yes, he or she is “another,” and is asked to fill in a blank.

The form offers the prompt: “for example, Argentinean, Dominican, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, Spaniard, and so on.”

Rangel, who represents a district with a big Dominican population, has introduced HR 1504 that would require the Census Bureau to offer a separate check box for Dominican-Americans. Similarly, Rep. Yvette Clark (D., N.Y.), who is Caribbean-American, has introduced HR 2071 that would require a check box for “Caribbean extraction or descent.”

The 2010 census forms already have gone to the printer, so there’s no chance of a change this time around. But Terri Ann Lowenthal, who writes a census newsletter, says both bills are likely to figure into the discussion about the 2020 form.

Census drafters talk about the limited “real estate” on the decennial form—they want to keep it to one page and 10 questions in order to assure most people answer it.

But ethnic and racial interest groups regularly lobby for inclusion. Question 9 on the 2010 census asks for the race of the person being counted, and then gives the option of nine Asian groups, plus a fill-in blank for anyone not already covered; a check box for native Americans and a fill-in blank for the name of their tribe; a fill-in blank for “some other race;” a check box for “black, African Am., or Negro” and a check box for “white.”

Groups representing Caribbean blacks, African immigrants and Arab-Americans already are asking for check boxes of their own in the 2020 census, says Lowenthal.

The Census Bureau doesn’t ask anyone except Asians and Hispanics about their nationality or ancestry on the decennial census. For everyone else–the one-quarter Italian, half-Czech, one-quarter Scot–that question is left to the American Community Survey, a household sampling that the bureau conducts yearly.

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.