Even if Northeastern states have lost 40% of their House seats, has the region lost that much influence?

Large-scale population shifts can have all sorts of effects including the loss of seats in Congress:

The Census Bureau reports that population growth has shifted to the South and the result is that the 11 states that make up the Northeast are being bled dry of representation in Washington…

Deep in a recent report, for example, the American Legislative Exchange Council tabulated how the drop in population relative to the rest of the nation cut the region’s power in Washington. While the states from Pennsylvania to Maine had 141 House members in 1950, they are down to 85 today, a drop of some 40 percent.

California and Texas combined have more House representatives..

“This result is one of the most dramatic demographic shifts in American history. This migration is shifting the power center of America right before our very eyes. The movement isn’t random or even about weather or resources. Economic freedom is the magnet and states ignore this force at their own peril,” said the report.

The last quote is particularly interesting as the population center of the United States has indeed kept moving further and further west (and a little south). Yet, even with the loss of seats from Northeastern states, New York City is still the #1 global city. Additionally, this region is close to the city of Washington D.C. which seems to be doing just fine in terms of wealthy counties and communities and a growing presence among large cities. Does having less seats in Congress necessarily mean the Northeast has lost 40% of its influence in American life? How many lobbyists are located in the Northeast compared to other places? Where are the institutions of higher learning from which many politicians and other elites come from? Where are the large media organizations?

It would also be interesting to see where these Northeast house seats have been lost. Is it primarily from large cities or more from mid-sized cities and more rural areas that have had steady population losses? Is this more of a Rust Belt phenomenon that affects cities like Buffalo, Rochester, and Worcester more than Boston, New York, and Philadelphia?

Cantor’s victorious opponent, an economics professor, to face off against Democrat sociologist professor

The academic disciplines of sociology and economics don’t always get along so it will be interesting to watch an economics and sociology professor square off in Virginia’s 7th district:

In sociology, education is often championed as the best path to a vibrant society—an idea Trammell clearly subscribes to. He is running on a platform of college access, student-loan forgiveness, and special-education reform. In 2012, Trammell published a book, The Richmond Slave Trade: The Economic Backbone of the Old Dominion. (More recently, he has planned to write a vampire novel.) Trammell’s ancestor, Thomas Trammell, was an indentured servant when he arrived in Fairfax in 1671.

Brat joined the faculty at Randolph-Macon in 1996 after receiving his Ph.D. in economics at American University. Since then, he’s taught classes on micro- and macroeconomics, public finance, and business ethics. And he coauthored a paper titled, “An Analysis of the Moral Foundations in Ayn Rand”. Back in January, Brat told the National Review that while he doesn’t consider himself a Randian, “he has been influenced by Atlas Shrugged and appreciates Rand’s case for human freedom and free markets.”…

The idea of a Republican economics professor facing off against a Democratic sociology professor presents a near-perfect microcosm of American political thought. What matters most in governance—the good of the market or the good of society? Should government serve to keep the free market as uninhibited as possible, or to impose checks on the market to protect citizens? Is education or entrepreneurship a more important path to individual and collective success? These are questions ripe for a Poli-Sci 101 discussion.

Perhaps a bit overstated (the next, and last, paragraph of the story goes on to tell who has the highest score at RateMyProfessor.com) but it sounds like the two have different perspectives on the world.  Given their disciplines, it could be easy to caricature the two sides without seeing what exactly the points of agreement and disagreement are between the two candidates. Is it easy to argue its education versus free markets or would voters generally support both? It is not immediately clear how much voters care much about this academic food fight –  both candidates are PhDs after all.

If you are curious, here are the demographics of Virginia’s 7th House District which skews Republican and more white, educated, and wealthy than American averages.

According to the United States Census Bureau’s 2010 data for the 111th Congress, the total population of the district is 757,917. Median age for the district is 39.2 years. 74.3% of the district is White, 17.1% Black, 3.9% Asian, 0.3% Native American or Alaskan, and 2.1% some other race with 4.9% Hispanic or Latino. Owner-occupied housing is 72.0% and renter-occupied housing is 28.0%. The median value of single-family owner-occupied homes is $188,400. 88.1% of the district population has at least a high school diploma, 36.7% at least a bachelor’s degree or higher. 9.9% of the district are civilian veterans. 12.7% are foreign born and 20.1% speak a language other than English at home. 9.9% are of disability status. 68.2% of the district is in the labor force, which consists of those 16 years and older. Mean travel time to work is 26.2 minutes. Median household income is $64,751. Per capita income is $33,628. 5.3% of the population account for families living below the poverty level, and 7.6% of individuals live below the poverty level.

So perhaps the sociologist, compared to an economist, starts at a disadvantage.

The census and US House seats

There are a number of people eagerly awaiting the results of the 2010 Census. In addition to sociologists, politicians and states are awaiting an announcement regarding how population changes have affected seats in the House of Representatives:

The U.S. Census Bureau will release the new Congressional apportionment figures at a Dec. 21 news conference at the National Press Club, making official the number of Congressional districts each state will have for the next 10 years…

One trend expected to continue from the previous census is population growth rates in the South and West far outpacing those in the North and East. Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York are expected to lose seats as Florida, Texas, Arizona and Nevada are likely to gain seats.

I am very curious to see the full 2010 Census results regarding where the changes in the American population have occurred. While people have suggested that the suburban population has continued to grow (particularly in its proportion compared to city and rural dwellers), it is also interesting to note the continued trend of population growth in the South and West.

It would also be interesting to track how population changes, and the subsequent Congressional changes, really affect where the seat of power is in America. Let’s say New York loses a House seat going forward – does this really matter in the House? Does it matter in terms of public perception? Even with the population growth in the South and West, do the newer cities like Miami, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and San Diego have the same perceived political power as established cities like New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago?

Why vote against honoring sports teams?

Amidst the story of the US House voting 395-5 to honor the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks with a resolution, three of the five who voted “no” explained their vote to the Chicago Tribune.

One was a diehard Flyers fan and Philadelphia native. A second is from New Jersey, across the river from Philly, and said his vote would not line up with his constituent’s interests.

The third “no” vote came from Marion Berry in Arkansas. His explanation:

I am generally opposed to congressional resolutions congratulating sports teams when they are the only reason members have been required to return to Washington to vote for that day. While the success in any sporting event is a source of great pride for all who played a role in the victory and their supporters, these resolutions are far less urgent than the many other important challenges facing our nation, such as job creation and our economy.

While Berry is certainly correct about the relative importance of this resolution, does it matter if he is the only House member who feels this way? Will any of his constituents take note? Is it the sort of fact that can be used for him on the campaign trail – or will he be seen as a killjoy? A quick perusal of the early comments on the story suggest Berry may be on to something…