Monday, March 29, 2010

Republicans: The Next Underrepresented Americans?

Summary: Anti-government conservatives have been slow to return their census forms.

According to an article in the Houston Chronicle today, politically conservative Texas has been behind in completing the 2010 Census so far.

From the article:

Texas is counting on the 2010 Census to deliver four new congressional districts, four new Electoral College votes in presidential elections, and millions of dollars in additional federal aid. But, as some elected officials are starting to worry, Uncle Sam can't deliver anything to the rapidly growing Sun Belt state unless Texas residents deliver their forms back to the government.

As of Friday afternoon, only 27 percent of Texas households had filled in and returned their census forms — well below the national average of 34 percent — according to computer data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

And there is reason to suggest politics is behind this trend.

Polling by the Pew Research Center finds Democrats are more likely than other Americans to view the census as “very important” to the country. Seventy-six percent of Democrats call this year's count very important, compared with 61 percent of Republicans and independents.

In Texas, some of the counties with the lowest census return rates are among the state's most Republican, including Briscoe County in the Panhandle, 8 percent; King County, near Lubbock, 5 percent; Culberson County, near El Paso, 11 percent; and Newton County, in deep East Texas, 18 percent…

…There is a reason for the enthusiasm gap on the census: A number of prominent conservative and libertarian Republicans have been blasting the census for months…

…Earlier this month, Texas Rep. Ron Paul voted against a congressional resolution asking Americans to participate in the census.

“The invasive nature of the current census raises serious questions about how and why government will use the collected information,” the Lake Jackson Republican recently said. “It also demonstrates how the federal bureaucracy consistently encourages citizens to think of themselves in terms of groups, rather than as individual Americans.”

Houston-area GOP lawmakers say anti-census feelings run deep among their constituents.

“People are concerned about the apparent intrusive nature of the census,” said Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble. “People are very concerned that the government is going too far.”

Of course, it is considerably more expensive for the government when you don’t return your census form. Because the Census is required in the Constitution, the Census Bureau has to hire interviewers to go to your home if you fail to send it in the mail.

But because the Census is apparently “intrusive” conservatives seem to be willing to add a bit more to the national debt. Plus they seem to be less interested in the fact that they would lose representation in Congress.

Not that those Democrats would mind the latter prospect.