Low Census Response Could Cost States Seats
Some states with large Hispanic populations may be getting undercounted by the Census because of unexpectedly poor returns.
New York, California, Texas, Arizona and Florida — are perilously close to losing out on congressional seats because of lackluster participation in the U.S. census.
The five were average or below average in mailing back 10-question census forms when compared to other states, trailing by as many as 5 percentage points, according to the final census mail-in tally released Wednesday.
Based on recent population trends, New York, California and Texas had been estimated to fall just above the cutoff for the last House seats when they are redistributed next year. Waiting behind them in hopes of picking up additional seats are Arizona and Florida, which are already expected to gain one seat apiece.
Responses from these states also raise a red flag because of their higher shares of residents who are Latinos. The Census Bureau has said one of its main concerns is whether tensions over immigration will discourage Latinos, and particularly illegal immigrants, from participating in the government count. That issue returned to the forefront after Arizona passed a tough immigration enforcement bill.
It’s possible, I suppose, that there has been genuine migration out of those states that the Census people haven’t accounted for. Indeed, one of the oddities of the process is that they have to know where you live to mail you a Census form.
The “Latino fear” thesis would seem to be undermined by the fact that Florida and Arizona — two states with large Hispanic populations — seem to be the likely beneficiaries of an undercount in those other states. Especially in light of the recent brouhaha over Arizona’s new crackdown on illegal aliens.