2010 Census Results Appear To Benefit Republicans

New figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show the total population of the nation has risen to more than 308 million. The population increased by 9.7 percent from 2000 to 2010, the slowest rate of growth since the 1930s. The country's political map will be redrawn based on these figures. Census Director Robert Groves talks to Linda Wertheimer about the first major release of data from Census 2010.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

We now know how many Americans there are, about 308 million. The 2010 Census results were announced yesterday and the country's political map will be redrawn based on those figures. It's mostly good news for Republicans. Republican states are gaining congressional seats, while traditionally Democratic states will be losing them. To hear more about the numbers, we're joined by the director of the Census, Robert Groves. Good morning.

Mr. ROBERT GROVES (Director, U.S. Census): Good morning, how are you?

WERTHEIMER: Fine, thanks. The Census results are used to redraw congressional districts for the House of Representatives. Which states gained seats in the House?

Mr. GROVES: Well, the big gainer was Texas with four seats, but other states that added seats are Arizona, Florida with two, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington.

WERTHEIMER: And which states are the losers?

Mr. GROVES: Both New York and Ohio lost two seats each, and then a set of states lost one. They include Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

WERTHEIMER: Now those maps, maps in those states will have to be redrawn to reflect the change. This population shift certainly appears to benefit Republicans, but I was wondering if states gaining seats are necessarily gaining Republican voters? There seemed to be a lot of immigrants moving into the South and West as well.

Mr. GROVES: Well, I'm not a political scientist and I actually am not an expert on this, but I think we should note from a demographer's perspective that a lot of the growth in the Southern and Western states come from migration from Northeastern and Midwestern states. And those people who come to the south and the west generally bring their culture, their values, the issues they care about from their home states. So I think it's difficult to predict over the long run what this means.

WERTHEIMER: The Census count includes legal and illegal immigrants. Presumably immigration has changed the U.S. population, but can you tell how much over the last ten years?

Mr. GROVES: No, we can't. We don't have very good data. The best estimates we have suggest that of the growth, you know, we had a 9.7 percent growth this decade, and maybe 60 percent of that growth came from natural increase from the resident population and maybe 40 percent from immigration.

WERTHEIMER: That sounds like a big number. Does that mean that the numbers of, say for example Hispanics has changed as a percentage of the population since 2000?

Mr. GROVES: We've been tracking that with the American Community Survey, an ongoing survey that we do, and that's certainly the case. From the 2010 Census the official counts we'll get those kinds of statistics out in the spring of 2011. So we'll all know then.

WERTHEIMER: The kinds of things that you've learned from this Census, we're just getting some of the first tastes of it now, what more can we expect, what besides the minority data, what's sort of your favorite number that's coming up that we're going to learn in 2011?

Mr. GROVES: Well, I think, we've already learned a couple of things that are important for us as a country, understand, I think. First of all, this is the first decade we've gone over the 300 million mark, so we continue to grow.

The second thing is that the growth rate itself is coming down. We are the rate of growth is slowing, and this is a phenomenon that's been going on for some decades.

And then the final thing I think that's notable here is that we continue this movement from the Northeastern and Midwestern states to the South and the West. This has been almost the history of this country. And that hasn't abated. So for the very first time, the western region of the country, that part of the country that has the states that join the union last, that is larger than the Midwest region. This is the first time in history.

Now looking forward, I can't wait as a sociologist to look at how Americans answered the race and ethnicity questions, you know, starting...

WERTHEIMER: The question about self-identifying?

Mr. GROVES: That's right. In 2000 for the first time, we could all chose multiple races if we felt that those multiple races described us well. And not too many people did it, but this is a decade that's Tiger Woods and Barack Obama, and I suspect our feelings about race and ethnicity may have changed through those kind of societal discussions. So that will be a great thing to look at when we get those data out in the spring.

WERTHEIMER: Thanks very much.

Mr. GROVES: Thank you very much.

WERTHEIMER: Robert Groves. He's the Census director.

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