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Democrats Spin Census Data as Both Parties See Gains and Losses

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call
Census Bureau Director Robert Groves, Commerce Department Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announce the population of the U.S. based on the 2010 census results.

Democrats are spinning the reapportionment figures released by the Census Bureau on Tuesday as net positives, with both Democrats and Republicans looking for an edge heading into the 2012 presidential and Congressional elections.

On the surface, the trend of continued population migration from the Midwest and Northeast to the South and West appears to benefit the Republican Party, which dominated much of the South and scored several more Democratic seats in the West in the midterm elections.

Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said at a National Press Club event Tuesday morning that there has been a net shift of 79 seats to the South and West since 1940, with 12 of those moving in 2010.

But Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) said a closer look at the population statistics illustrates growth in Democratic areas within Republican-leaning states.

“Today’s release of U.S. Census data pours cold water on Republicans’ hype that redistricting is a disaster for Democrats,” Israel said in a statement Tuesday. “Democratic communities and constituencies have grown in size in states like Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and Washington.”

Democrats believe the growth will be in the suburbs and in areas that are heavily Hispanic, constituencies that have favored them in some elections. President Barack Obama won in 2008 in part by earning support from Hispanics in Florida and Nevada, states that had voted for Republican presidential nominees in the previous elections. Obama’s campaign team said in 2008 that it had believed Arizona would be competitive in the general election but abandoned a strong effort there when Arizona Sen. John McCain became the GOP nominee.

In Ohio, Republicans picked up five seats in the midterms, but the state will lose two seats to reapportionment. After the GOP saw a net gain of 63 seats nationwide, the same could happen to the party elsewhere too.

“In states that will lose a seat, the number of Republicans who will be competing with each other creates opportunities for House Democrats,” Israel said.

Democrats are in danger of losing seats as well. Until redistricting, though, where those battles exist is up for conjecture. Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman named 20 Members or soon-to-be Members whose seats could be in jeopardy: 11 Democrats and nine Republicans.

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