Skip to comments.The Reddening of America: Census report on population shifts spells bonanza for GOP
Posted on 07/14/2005 2:49:38 PM PDT by rhema
Anyone who wants to know where American politics is headed should look at the U.S. Census Bureau's eye-popping population shift projections for the next three decades.
In a nutshell, it forecasts that Americans will continue moving out of the liberal bastions of the Northeast and Midwest and into the Sun Belt states in the South and West. That, in turn, will boost Republican congressional and electoral clout and further erode the Democrats' strength in its political base.
Republicans have refastened their electoral lock on the South and the Western plains and mountain states, while Democrats have lost electoral strength in Northeastern and Midwestern states. The reason: many more Americans are moving to places like Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Arizona and Nevada -- conservative-leaning states the GOP has been carrying with increasing regularity over the last several decades.
The Census Bureau's Interim Population Projections, its first in eight years, shows that this political migration is not only going to continue, it is going to accelerate over the next 30 years.
So much so that heavily Democratic Michigan and New Jersey will be replaced on the list of the 10 most populated states by heavily Republican and fast-growing Arizona and North Carolina. Ohio, a pivotal swing state in presidential races, will fall from seventh to 10th place in population, and Republican-rich Georgia will move from 10th to eighth.
A bigger seismic shift: heavily Republican Florida will become the third-largest state in population, surpassing Democratic New York, which will fall into fourth place perhaps as early as 2011.
"The net beneficiary of this will continue to be the Republican Party because the population shift is moving into an environment that is heavily dominated by the Republicans," says Merle Black, the Emory University professor of politics and government and co-author of seminal books on the South's political realignment.
This doesn't mean that Democrats cannot win states in the South with the right candidate -- Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton proved that. But absent an appealing southern Democrat, the political rise of the Sun Belt gives the GOP "a long-term structural advantage and assuming they nominate credible candidates, they start with a strong base," Black says.
The census forecasts reinforce his belief that "the Republicans will continue to be the dominant party in the South for the foreseeable future."
The migration from the Snow Belt industrial north to the South and West has been going on for several decades now, but the political effects reached a new milestone in just the last three years.
"In the 2002 and 2004 exit polls, we saw for the first time a majority of Southern white voters identifying themselves as Republicans and Democratic identification falling to a low 20 (percent) to 25 percent," Black says.
It didn't happen all at once, but the two driving forces for this change were Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. "Southern whites (who identified themselves as Republicans) began to be a plurality in the 1980s during the Reagan years," Black says. What we're seeing now "is a Bush surge because Bush has been a very popular president in the South."
This political erosion has cut the Democrats' once-mighty dominance in the South to the bone and it's only going to get worse, the latest census forecasts suggest.
The share of Americans living in the Northeast and Midwest will plunge from 42 percent to 35 percent, while the percentage living in the South and West will rise from 58 percent to 65 percent.
There are some who doubt that this migration is going to strengthen the GOP electoral lock in the Sun Belt. Instead, they see this migration further diversifying the South and West, both socially and politically.
"The people moving to the Carolinas are from the blue (Democratic) states to a large degree," says William H. Frey, a political demographer at the Brookings Institution. "They are coming from the Midwest, from New Jersey and New York, and they are going to bring with them certainly Southern fiscal values but also maybe Northern social values," he told me.
Florida, a state of regional transplants, in particular will turn into much more socially diverse battleground, Frey says. "They are getting younger, more mainstream suburbanites from the Northeast in Orlando and Tampa, but also more diverse minority immigrant populations, all of which are different from the Florida we've seen in the past," he says.
But Black says this will not diminish the generational values of the South's native population, which is more hardcore conservative than ever.
"If you look at younger white voters in the South, they are even more Republican than the older white voters. As these younger white voters age, they are going to be even more cohesively Republican than their predecessors," he says. That, he thinks, will block any political liberalization of the South in the foreseeable future.
In American politics, of course, hope springs eternal. But these Census forecasts suggest that the red states are only going to get redder.
More likely that the children will take on the culture, not change it.
Don't get too excited. This could be bad news. If libs are moving from the blue cr*p-holes to red states, they will eventually turn the red states blue. Look at New Hampshire, screwed up with Mass'ites.
A way overblown story. Demographics will not do our job for us. We need to hold the voters we have and bring more to our side.
Things are not going fine when Hitlery is doing as well in the polls as she is, or when a geek like Kerry gets 48 percent of the vote.
I tend to agree with the skeptics. What reason is there to believe that left-of-center types fleeing California and the Northeast will leave their ideology behind? Just look at northern Virginia, Florida, and New Hampshire. And of course much of the population growth in the Red States comes from pro-Democrat immigration.
If there was something in the water, soil, or air in the South and SunBelt that magically makes one more conservative then I might see this as reason to rejoice, but since there isn't, I don't.
This has opportunities and risks. The opportunities are that they leave the liberalism behind and the Republicans permanently take over the White House and Congress. On the other hand, if they keep their liberal values in the South and West, marginal red states such as Florida and Nevada could easily swing back to the Democrats...but adding more electoral votes to states like Texas is a GOP bonanza.
This sounds like it was written by head-in-the-sand types like Michael Barone or the WSJ editorial page.
I wouldn't be surprised if Texas becomes a battleground state sometime in the next decade.
To some extent. For states like Florida and Nevada (fast-growing marginal red states) and, to a lesser extent, Colorado and Arizona (moderate red), that could play a role.
However, for states like Texas, that is not an issue...it would take a catastrophic collapse for Texas to go blue.
This sounds good, as long as the Republicans don't forget to dance with the guy what brung 'em.
After all, the South was solidly Democratic 30-40 years ago as the end of the segregationist era. Today, it is solidly Republican. Who knows what will happen in the next 30 years?
I doubt that. There are enough strong Republicans to overcome any swing vote there...only a devastating scandal by a future GOP President could turn Texas blue (and it would be a near-sweep for the Democrats in that case).
Don't buy into this. Libs don't leave their beliefs behind.Also, don't forget the mushrooming immigrant population along the border states---they'll tend to vote dem.
Texas was blue at the end of the segregationist era 30-40 years ago. It could be blue in 30-40 years.
We know that voters are more liberal when they are young and become more conservative after paying taxes and having children of their own. The hipi & Pro Choice generation is either getting to the conservative stage or they aborted their young, leaving conservatives to populate. It is simple math that the conservative population will continue to expand.
Bush had 44% of the Hispanic vote in the last election though...and illegal immigrants cannot vote (obviously)...so that is not as much of an issue as you think.
I don't think so. I think when they leave the northeast, they also leave behind the grossly unbalanced democratic hold on the media. With alternative information with a conservative slant in these southern and western locations, the NE migrants will be absorbed into the conservative south.
Control of the media (TV, radio, print, web, church, etc.) is the key.
In other words, most of the people moving to the red states from the blue should only help to strengthen the GOP hold on those states. But that also means that the blue states become more blue, which dooms them to further decline.
So why assume that the majority of migrants are blue state libs? Why would true blue kool-aid drinkers leave their paradise to live in the swamps and dank river valleys of the South?
I think it's probably more likely that northern conservatives are bailing. That's the case here in California where conservative coastal dwellers are leaving the blue cities and resettling in the red interior of the state.
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