Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Political Numerology

Yesterday the gnomes at the Census Bureau released the latest state-level population estimates. More numbers, but the story that will be getting bigger is what those population trends mean for the political reapportionment that is coming soon. As this USA today story says, Pennsylvania is slated to lose a congressional seat if current trends continue as expected. Some people have told me they are worried we could lose 2 seats as happened after the last census, but I am pretty sure Pennsylvania is pretty solidly in a range to only lose one. Things would have to be awfully different from the trends in the estimates data to push us to either losing 2 seats or none at all.

Redistricting and reapportionment are about as political as these things get. What does losing a seat mean? From a sheer mapping point of view, losing one seat and not two means there will have to be some serious redrawing of districts all the way across the state. Every district is going to look pretty different once the map drawing is completed. Even if the main population loss is in Western PA, the redrawn districts here will impact boundaries all the way to NE Pennsylvania.

Mentioned before, but when Pennsylvania was last redistricted following the 2000 census, there was little secret made in the desire to create a district that would swap one traditionally Democratic congressional district for a Republican one in Southwestern Pennsylvania. With just a little help from those darn computers a congressional district was tailor made for then State Senator Tim Murphy who would win the seat. Jeff Toobin discussed the whole history of Pennsylvania redistricting in this article in the New Yorker. In the end the effort may have backfired. According to no less of a conservative source than the Wall Street Journal the process didn't work out too well for Republicans in the long run. What ought to have created were maps favorable toward a Pennsylvania delegation that was overwhelmingly R, the current congress about to be seated has 12 D and 7 R.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another important thing to keep in mind how the trends will affect PA's congressional representation by 2020 and 2030. If the Baby Boomers are now all retiring, they'll be passing away in 10-20 years. Not to mention, as of the 2000 census, PA is already the 2nd oldest state in the Union, with over 15% of our pop past the age of 65.

If places like western PA don't get wise to the need for immigrants, not only will we be without the steel mills, but then we'll also be without the elected officials (like John Murtha) who could ease the pain by bringing home the bacon.

Pittsburgh Polemics

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 7:24:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

don't confuse 'old' with 'getting older'.....


Wednesday, December 24, 2008 4:46:00 AM  

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