By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) One of the reasons why Democrats are fighting the Trump administration tooth and nail over the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census is because the party is already well aware that massive population shifts over the past decade are making House races next year extremely competitive.
A report by The Hill on Wednesday summarizes the big challenges ahead for Democrats — and some Republicans as well — thanks in large part to an influx of people in key districts that never used to be competitive but have become much more so in recent years, thanks to demographic shifts:
Democrats will find themselves on defense in dozens of districts the party captured in 2018, including 31 districts President Trump won in 2016. Already, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has identified 36 members for its Frontline program, which protects endangered incumbents.
Republicans, too, will have to defend districts in unexpected areas, seats that Democrats narrowly lost in 2018. Districts that have not been targets for years are suddenly in play, either because suburban voters revolted against Trump or because new residents are moving in and changing the makeup of those areas.
All told, 89 congressional races were decided by 10 percentage points or less in the 2018 midterm elections.
Registering big population shifts every 10 years when the Census is taken isn’t new. However, The Hill notes, this last cycle has seen the most dramatic population shifts in recent history, as millions of Americans, for example, moved out of the Rust Belt and into the Sun Belt.
Also, economic success in states like Texas is coming with a political price tag. The Lone Star State has seen its economy boom in recent years thanks to conservative tax reform and business-friendly policies. But companies moving in tend to bring or attract Democrat voters, making formerly red districts either purple or even blue.
Austin is a perfect example. The city has already trended liberal but an influx of technology companies and other leading industries, it’s a solid blue enclave in an otherwise red — or reddish — state, as evidenced by the adoption recently of a homeless policy that no longer criminalizes camping out in public spaces (a policy that is only going to attract more homeless people).
The Hill notes:
Nearly two dozen congressional districts have seen their populations increase by more than 10 percent since the last census, according to the Census Bureau’s figures, and 52 districts have added at least 50,000 new residents.
In states where lawmakers carefully drew district boundaries to maximize their chances of winning, those population shifts become even more destabilizing.
Nowhere is that clearer than in Texas, where Republicans drew district lines that assured they would hold a supermajority of seats in Congress after the 2010 census. To do so, they had to draw several districts where Democrats would earn huge majorities and others where Republicans could win with 55 to 60 percent of the vote. …
Texas has grown at such a rapid pace that those careful calculations have been thrown out of whack. Where the average congressional district in the United States has grown by 23,200 people since the last Census, the average Texas district has grown by 74,000 people — and the average competitive Texas district, mostly centered around Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Dallas, has grown by an incredible 96,500 residents.
Texas Republicans publicly celebrate so many new residents, who come from states like California and New York in search of plentiful jobs and lower taxes. Privately, those Republicans bemoan the fact that the new residents still vote like they live in California or New York.
It’s true. States that were previously either reliably red or were listed as swing states have now become solid blue thanks to demographic shifts. They include Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. A GOP president has not won any of them since George W. Bush won all three in 2004.
Still, Democrats aren’t off the hook, either. As POTUS Trump increasingly makes the far-Left faction of the party its face — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar — that’s turning off more moderate Dems as well as Independents, according to recent Democrat internal polling.
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