Census: Fastest Growth in Red States

Fastest growth found in ‘red’ states (USA Today)

Robust population growth continues to sweep the nation’s Southern and Western states, according to estimates released Wednesday by the Census Bureau. If the trend continues at its current pace, states in the Northeast and Midwest that have been population powerhouses since the 19th century will lose their dominance to Sun Belt states by 2010. (Related chart: Population and population trends by state)

New York, now the third most populous state, will likely be overtaken by Florida in five years. New Jersey, the 10th-largest state, could be passed by North Carolina in three. “By 2010, none of the three most populous states will be in the North,” says Robert Lang, director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that these states will remain Red.

The population trends show that economic and political power is shifting to states attracting suburbanites from congested, densely populated areas, says William Frey, demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. […] “It’s the New America,” Frey says. “It’s taking population and political clout from the highly urbanized Old America.” But more people means change, and politicians should pay attention to the constant shifts of population in booming states, Frey says. “The turbulent demographic change occurring in New America makes its political future much more up for grabs,” Frey says. “Two groups which favor Democrats, Hispanics and Gen Xers, are a significant part of (its) recent growth.”

Of course, Gen Xers are likely to trend more Republican as they age and the GOP is making steady inroads among Hispanics. The question, though, is how much of the growth in the Red states is job-seeking migration from the Blue states? More importantly, how much are said migrants like current Red state denizens? Will they bring their Blue state values with them, or adapt to the local culture?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.