A new study has blue states seeing red.
Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania will likely each lose a congressional seat in redistricting. New York and Ohio should lose two seats.
The U.S. Census Bureau releases its official count this December, and this final tally, and not the Election Data Services, Inc.’s projection based on preliminary counts, will determine the reapportionment in effect for the 2012 elections.
Conspicuously, states that voted for Barack Obama in 2008 are projected to lose eleven of those twelve subtracted seats. Conspicuously, states that voted for John McCain are expected to gain ten of the twelve new seats. Should Election Data Services, Inc.’s numbers hold up, Texas would gain four seats, Florida would add two, and Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington would each claim a new seat.
Red states are gaining political clout at the expense of blue states. This makes the electoral map an even more elusive puzzle for President Obama to solve in 2012.
Eleven electoral votes that he won in 2008 will be erased from his column (and one added). The states that voted for McCain will have ten electoral votes in 2012 they didn’t have in 2008 (with two lost). With all other factors remaining the same, if the 2008 presidential election were held under the projected reapportionment, Barack Obama would win 356 instead of 365 electoral votes and John McCain would win 182 instead of 173 electoral votes. One way of looking at this is that, although not a single ballot has been cast for 2012, Republicans are already up eighteen electoral votes from where they were in the last presidential election. And this is to say nothing of the conservative resurgence, liberal disappointment, and disaffection of independents that puts the president in a more precarious spot for 2012 than he was in 2008.
The coming reapportionment also diminishes the power of Democrat-leaning states in the House of Representatives. This benefit to Republicans may be mitigated in part by the fact that Democrat-controlled legislatures will skillfully attempt to gerrymander Republicans out of their seats. Unlike the Electoral College, in which a state generally awards its votes en masse to the presidential winner, states generally send Republicans and Democrats to Washington. And just one lost seat comes from a state (Missouri) where Republicans currently control both houses of the state legislature, the institution which, save for New Jersey where a bipartisan commission determines redistricting, will redraw political boundaries for states in relative decline. So, in the short term, the congressional boon to Republicans may not be as pronounced as the presidential one.
What reapportionment says about the future is perhaps less interesting than what it says about the present.
Red states are gaining population relative to blue states because of the divergence in policy. Jobs, and thus people, flock to red states because they are generally easier places to do business. If the states are, as Justice Brandeis posited, laboratories of democracy, then places such as New York, which will have lost sixteen electoral votes since 1960, and Massachusetts, which will have gone from fourteen to nine seats in those five decades, must be considered failed experiments.
Eight of the twelve migrating seats will arrive in income-tax-free states. Conversely, all of the states losing seats impose an income tax. Put another way, two-thirds of the added seats will go to the less than one-fifth of states that do not have an income tax and one-hundred percent of the lost seats come from states that impose an income tax.
Similarly, all of the redistricted seats, save for a lone congressional district added in Washington, will go to right-to-work states. Ten of twelve lost seats derive from forced unionism states. This comes despite the fact that a majority of Americans reside in the twenty-six effectively closed-shop states.
Obviously, there are countless other political variables at work. And policy is just one causal agent influencing where a person chooses to live or how many kids a couple decides to have. But such a disproportionate population boom for low-tax, open-shop red states, and a relative population exodus from high-tax, union-shop blue states, surely issues a damning verdict on big government.
Republicans stand poised to win governorships, state legislatures, and House and Senate seats on Election Day. The good news for Republicans is that the bad news for Democrats doesn’t end on November 2.