The census, reapportionment - and Jewish political muscle
12/21/2010 - 17:32
James Besser

  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.


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A survey of 800 New York voters conducted on December 22-23, 2008 showed 79% overall support for a national popular vote for President. By gender, support was 89% among women and 69% among men. By age, support was 60% among 18-29 year olds, 74% among 30-45 year olds, 85% among 46-65 year olds, and 82% for those older than 65. Support was 86% among Democrats, 66% among Republicans, 78% among Independence Party members (representing 8% of respondents), 50% among Conservative Party members (representing 3% of respondents), 100% among Working Families Party members (representing 2% of respondents), and 7% among Others (representing 7% of respondents).
fyi The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Elections wouldn't be about winning states. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. Every vote, everywhere would be counted for and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states. In the 2012 election, pundits and campaign operatives already agree that only 14 states and their voters will matter under the current winner-take-all laws (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) used by 48 of the 50 states. Candidates will not care about 72% of the voters-- voters in 19 of the 22 smallest and medium-small states, and big states like California, Georgia, New York, and Texas. 2012 campaigning would be even more obscenely exclusive than 2008 and 2004. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. Voter turnout in the "battleground" states has been 67%, while turnout in the "spectator" states was 61%. Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing. The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes--that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action. The bill has been endorsed or voted for by 1,922 state legislators (in 50 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill. The Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action endorses a national popular vote for president. In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: CO-- 68%, IA --75%, MI-- 73%, MO-- 70%, NH-- 69%, NV-- 72%, NM-- 76%, NC-- 74%, OH-- 70%, PA -- 78%, VA -- 74%, and WI -- 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE --75%, ME -- 77%, NE -- 74%, NH --69%, NV -- 72%, NM -- 76%, RI -- 74%, and VT -- 75%; in Southern and border states: AR --80%, KY -- 80%, MS --77%, MO -- 70%, NC -- 74%, and VA -- 74%; and in other states polled: CA -- 70%, CT -- 74% , MA -- 73%, MN – 75%, NY -- 79%, WA -- 77%, and WV- 81%. The National Popular Vote bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers, in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in AR (6), CT (7), DE (3), DC (3), ME (4), MI (17), NV (5), NM (5), NY (31), NC (15), and OR (7), and both houses in CA (55), CO (9), HI (4), IL (21), NJ (15), MD (10), MA(12), RI (4), VT (3), and WA (11). The bill has been enacted by DC, HI, IL, NJ, MD, MA, and WA. These 7 states possess 76 electoral votes -- 28% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.
Mr Besser: Contrary to your contention, Texas is not a Jewish backwater. It contains 130,000 Jews, which puts it in the Top Ten.
The only Jews in congress that are worth anything are Liberman, Cantor, and Berkeley. The rest can't be bothered.
No reason to see Jews as "losers" in the redistricting. NO. Time for the Sons of Israel to stand tall, get involved in Republican politics, and become part of the coalition which restrains both government growth and taxes.
Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida are among presidential-election swing states that happen to have relatively large Jewish communities in proportion to their general population (notwithstanding Mr. Besser's comment, the preponderance of Jews in Ohio is only 1.4 percent, higher than it is in Georgia), according to Setting aside congressional elections, Jewish voting "clout" in presidential elections hardly matters in states like Maryland, New York, Connecticut, etc. These are "solid" Democratic states at the presidential level and are hardly contested. Electoral college gains and losses more or less cancel one another out in (a) swing states (such as the ones mentioned in the preceding paragraph) with (b) significant Jewish communities as a proportion of their general population.

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