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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Trump Acknowledges Partisan Motivation in Census Case

In Defying the Odds, we discuss congressional elections as well as the presidential race.   The census, of course, shapes reapportionment and redistricting.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

At WP, Aaron Blake explains how Trump may have undercut the Justice Department's legal case for a citizenship question on the census.  In a scrum with reporters, he said there were many reaons for the question.
“Number one, you need it for Congress — you need it for Congress for districting,” he said Friday. “You need it for appropriations — where are the funds going? How many people are there? Are they citizens? Are they not citizens? You need it for many reasons.”
Take note of that first one. Not only was a redistricting rationale not mentioned by the administration in its failed legal defense of the question, but it was actually something the other side argued was the administration’s true motivation. The plaintiffs in the case — and many who oppose the citizenship question — have argued that this is a thinly veiled attempt by Republicans to gain a potential game-changing tool in redistricting.
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You can read more on this here, but suffice it to say: The U.S. Supreme Court has said congressional districts must be apportioned to the states according to total population, but it has not said those states cannot then draw those districts according to citizen voting-age population (CVAP).
This is more than hypothetical. It has been studied by some of the party’s most influential voices on redistricting. One study of how this might play out in Texas — a state with a large noncitizen population — said drawing districts using CVAP “would be advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites,” while diluting the political power of Latinos.
The 2015 study was written by the late Republican redistricting guru Thomas Hofeller. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the guy whose fingerprints appear to be on the Justice Department’s legal rationale for the census citizenship question. We learned that after Hofeller’s daughter discovered some relevant documents on his computer after his death last year.