Ethics & Public Policy Center

The 2020 Census Is Bad News for Progressive Policy

Published in The Washington Post on April 28, 2021


The release of the 2020 Census on Monday did more than show how political power in the next decade will flow a bit toward Republican-controlled states. It also showed why full-bore progressive economic policy is unlikely to become the new orthodoxy anytime soon.

This year’s census data continues a decades-long trend of a migration of people — and thus political power — away from the Northeast and Midwest and toward the South and some Western states. This year’s changes in reapportionment — seven states will lose one House seat each, five will gain one and Texas will gain two — are actually smaller than in previous years. Indeed, this seven-seat shift was the smallest following any census since the current formula for allocating House seats was adopted in 1941.

That’s small comfort to Democrats in the short term. The changes result in a three-seat shift away from states carried by Joe Biden. In an extremely tight race, those three seats — which translate to three electoral college votes — could be the difference between a Republican or a Democrat in the White House. This transfer will also slightly improve the GOP’s chances of retaking House control in 2022. Election analyst Kyle Kondik of Sabato’s Crystal Ball estimates that Republicans will gain a net two House seats simply because of reapportionment. Since they start only five seats down, that small advantage could be decisive.

Click here to read the rest of the piece on the Washington Post’s website.

Henry Olsen is a Washington Post columnist and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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