So this we know from the 2010 Census, the initial results of which were released today: There are now 308,745,538 people believed to be living in the United States. California remains the nation's most populous state, though its population only grew by 10 percent since 2000, not enough for the state to gain any new seats in Congress. The bulk of the population growth is concentrated in the West and South, with Nevada (up 35 percent) and Texas (up 20 percent) among the big population winners.
The U.S. Census Bureau has yet to release specifics on race and ethnicity. However, much is already being made of the population growth in terms of growing Latino political influence, since some of the states with the most growth, and which will gain representation, are also states with large numbers of Latino residents. The growth in states that tend to vote Republican has been described in some early reports as a hands-down gain for the GOP, but the ethnic factor provides an intriguing wrinkle. Here are a few stories that help put the data in ethnic/political perspective:
The Atlantic has a good analysis that predicts a "Hispanic voter boom." From the piece:
The big story is that Texas, a bright red state, gained four House seats and Electoral College votes, while rust-belt states and Democratic strongholds lost them. Ohio and New York each lost two; Michigan and Pennsylvania each lost one.
The national population shifts, however, bear the clear marks of a Hispanic population boom, meaning the political ramifications are more complicated than a simple net-plus for the GOP. Including Texas, the states to gain population are, by and large, states with already high and growing Hispanic segments: Florida, Arizona, and Nevada.
Fox News Latino drew a similar conclusion, breaking downs the gains of some of the states with large Latino populations:
Nevada, where Latinos were a significant factor in the re-election of Sen. Harry Reid, a Democrat, saw a 35 percent population increase, the highest of any state. Nevada gained one congressional seat.
Texas saw a 21 percent growth, and gained four seats – coming out the top winner in gains in congressional representation. The gain in Texas, particularly, has been attributed by demographic experts in large measure to its growing Hispanic population and an economy that weathered the recession.
Florida, with an 18 percent growth, was the second winner in apportionments with two more seats.
Arizona, which in the last year became an immigration policy battleground with its controversial measure empowering police to check for immigration status, had a population growth of 9.1 percent, and will gain one seat.
Time interviewed University of New Hampshire population expert Kenneth Johnson, who attributed the most recent population growth not so much to immigration, which has slowed, as to the children of immigrants. From the piece:
But while fewer Americans came from abroad, the census may still indicate a broad cultural shift in the US. Nearly 80% of the population growth in America came from minority families, with Hispanics registering the biggest gains. That was especially true in Texas and Arizona. Johnson estimates fewer white babies were born the past decade than in the ten years before, which might be the first time in US history that has happened.
So while traditionally Republican states picked up residents, the increase in minorities offers a ray of hope for Democrats in the census data. Minorities tend to vote Democrat.