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People of Color Are Driving Population Gains, Census Data Likely to Show

Data will be out Thursday and it will show for the first time that the white population is declining.

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Photo: Associated Press (AP)

The latest census numbers are about to drop and boooy, are racists white people going to be mad.

People of color are now the drivers of U.S. population growth and the white population is expected to show a decline for the first time in the history of the census when the data is released on Thursday, the Washington Post reports. The U.S. Census Bureau has been tracking the shrinking white population closely since 2010, predicting that white people would soon be outnumbered by a non-white multiracial population much sooner than expected.

From the Post:

The new census data, planned for release on Aug. 12, will show definitively how the ethnic, racial and voting-age makeup of neighborhoods shifted over the past decade, based on the national house-to-house canvass last year. It is the data most state legislatures and local governments use to redraw political districts for the next 10 years.

If the White decline is confirmed by the new data, that benchmark will have come about eight years earlier than previously projected, said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.

“Twenty years ago if you told people this was going to be the case, they wouldn’t have believed you,” he said, adding that the opioid epidemic and lower-than-anticipated birthrates among millennials after the Great Recession accelerated the White population’s decline. “The country is changing dramatically.”

The United States is also expected to have passed two other milestones on its way to becoming a majority-minority society in a few decades: For the first time, the portion of White people could dip below 60 percent and the under-18 population is likely to be majority non-White.

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So let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Gerrymandering.

Census data is used to redraw political districts for the next decade. Republicans have been adept at gerrymandering communities of colors to limit their voting power. According to AP, the ability to control voting districts has given the GOP a bigger political edge in more states than either party has had in the past 50 years.

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From AP:

That advantage, measured by a formula designed to detect potential gerrymandering, allowed Republicans to hold decade-long majorities in some congressional delegations or statehouses even as Democrats in those states won top-of-the-ticket races for president or statewide offices. In short: Republicans won more seats than would have been expected based on the percentage of votes they received.

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This has huge implications for the 2022 midterm elections since Republicans need only five seats to retake the House. And we already know how slim the margin is for the Senate.

However, in the past year as the issue of voting rights has become a hot button political issue (thank you, Stacey Abrams), states are enacting more redistricting-reform policies by requiring a bipartisan agreement on redrawn maps. There is a chance here, if the Democrats stop focusing on kumbaya-ing with the other side, to slow the hold Republicans have on redistricting so that communities of color can finally get true representation.