Tuesday, November 21, 2017

It Makes Perfect Census

Even Politico sounds the klaxon on Trump's leading pick to run the 2020 Census as it's the man who literally wrote the book on why and how Republicans should be using modern gerrymandering and redistricting tactics to ensure a permanent GOP majority.

The Trump administration is leaning toward naming Thomas Brunell, a Texas professor with no government experience, to the top operational job at the U.S. Census Bureau, according to two people who have been briefed on the Bureau’s plans.

Brunell, a political science professor, has testified more than half a dozen times on behalf of Republican efforts to redraw congressional districts, and is the author of a 2008 book titled “Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America.”

The choice would mark the administration’s first major effort to shape the 2020 Census, the nationwide count that determines which states lose and gain electoral votes and seats in the House of Representatives.

The fate of the Census under Trump has been closely watched by voting-rights advocates worried that the administration — which has already made unsupported claims about voter fraud — might nudge it in directions that over- or under-count some Americans. Subtle bureaucratic choices in the wording and administration of the Census can have huge consequences for who is counted, and how it shifts American voting districts.

The pick would break with the long-standing precedent of choosing a nonpolitical government official as deputy director of the U.S. Census Bureau. The job has typically been held by a career civil servant with a background in statistics. It does not require Senate confirmation, so Congress would have no power to block the hire.

If you're thinking that Republicans would do everything in their power to use the 2020 Census to remove several Congressional districts from large blue states like California, Illinois and New York and give them to red states like Texas (or more likely, take those blue state districts away and "round up" and distribute an extra district to lower population Midwest/Rocky Mountain red states like Utah, Arizona, Kansas, and/or Oklahoma) then you're right on the money.

The 2010 apportionment was a major blow to Democrats just based on demographics, but 2020 could be far, far worse.  Imagine the Census Bureau saying California and New York "massively overcounted illegal immigrants previously" and you get the idea.  Also, keep in mind population counts in many cases for dollars for federal programs and federal funding for things like education and Medicaid.  Knocking the blocks out from under blue states on that would mean de facto austerity cuts in the billions.

So yes, this is going to be bad but "control of the 2020 Census" was yet another reason why I voted for Clinton in 2016 while others said "We have to teach the Democrats a lesson".

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