The census, reapportionment – and Jewish political muscle

  You can bet a lot of pols in both parties are pouring over the 2010 census, released today in Washington.  While the numbers look good for Republicans and for Western and Southwestern states as the expense of Democrats and the Jew-rich Northeast, drawing too many conclusions about the impact of today’s numbers on Jewish political clout is risky.

That data will be the basis for congressional reapportionment – and population shifts documented by the new census make it clear states with the largest number of Jewish voters will be among the biggest losers, while some of the most conservative states in the country and a few with very small Jewish populations will score big.

Texas, not exactly a huge Jewish population center, was the big winner, and  will probably gain four seats in the U.S. House; New York, with the biggest Jewish population in the nation, will lose two, as will Ohio, which a significant Jewish population.

Other states with significant Jewish populations that will probably lose one seat each: Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

But Florida, another Jewish mecca, will gain 2 seats, thanks to strong population growth. And some of the states that will gain one seat each – including Arizona and Nevada – are places with growing Jewish populations.

As the New York Times reported today, “Most of the states winning seats trend Republican, and most of those losing them tend to elect Democrats. What is more, Republicans are in a strong position to steer the process, with Republican governors outnumbering Democrats 29 to 20 with one independent. Republicans also gained control of at least 18 legislative chambers in the midterms last month.”

Possibly blunting the scope of the GOP win: “Population gains in the south and west were driven overwhelmingly by minorities, particularly Hispanics, and the new districts, according to the rules of redistricting, will need to be drawn in places where they live, opening potential advantages for Democrats, who tend to be more popular among minorities,” the Times reports.

And don’t forget: congressional reapportionment is part of the mix in the makeup of the Electoral College.

Bottom line : Today’s census figures are good news for the Republicans, not so good for the Democrats and they could result in Jewish incumbents in loser states being put at risk in 2012 as districts are combined or eliminated, but it’s probably not going to produce any earthquakes in terms of Jewish political clout.


About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.