While the material translation of demographics to political power is important, even more important and interesting are the demographics themselves, said Brauer.
Many analysts act as if census numbers instantaneously change the country’s demographics and, therefore, politics instantaneously change as well.
This, actually, is what the Census does not do: It does not change demographics or politics.
Many analysts argue that population shifts from the blue states of the Northeast (such as Democrats, liberals and blacks) to Republican-red states of the South and West will make those red states less red.
“There is no doubt that this will occur at least at some micro levels,” said Brauer. “However, it will not have much significant overall impact.”
For one thing, much of the population change is due to birthrates, not just to migration. For another, the migrating blues’ impact on politics will be diluted in many cases, especially in redder states; many of the newcomers assimilate into the culture and politics of their new communities.
And, quite frankly, the new demographics already were tested in the 2010 midterm election, with Republican success.
The evidence that this affects Democrats more than Republicans came last week, when the National Urban League joined the big-city-mayor hand-wringing. It worries that southern states may improperly seek to stem the political clout of blacks as they move into white neighborhoods.
One of the bigger stories of the census is the significant growth of America’s Latino population, making them the largest minority group, surpassing blacks.
Republicans once had a natural advantage with Latinos, said Brauer: “They tend to be more fiscally conservative and to hold more traditional values.”
Yet the GOP has steadily lost that support to Democrats because of its stances on immigration, English-only and union issues.
Census numbers are math that already has happened. Politicians understand the impact of that math, they just don’t want to get used to it.