There's a lot for conservatives and Republicans to be happy about in the latest census data. Red states are growing in population and gaining congressional seats and electoral votes at the expense of blue states, whose populations are not growing as rapidly.
To hear some conservatives talk about it, this population growth is a result of conservative-minded Americans abandoning the quasi-socialist tyranny of the blue states for the low-tax, supply-side Shangri-la of the red states. Michael Barone made that case in his Washington Examiner column this morning, titled "Census: Fast growth in states with no income tax":
Texas' diversified economy, business-friendly regulations and low taxes have attracted not only immigrants but substantial inflow from the other 49 states. As a result, the 2010 reapportionment gives Texas four additional House seats. In contrast, California gets no new House seats, for the first time since it was admitted to the Union in 1850.
There's a similar lesson in the fact that Florida gains two seats in the reapportionment and New York loses two.
This leads to a second point, which is that growth tends to be stronger where taxes are lower. Seven of the nine states that do not levy an income tax grew faster than the national average. The other two, South Dakota and New Hampshire, had the fastest growth in their regions, the Midwest and New England.
Unfortunately, it's not that simple.
Let's focus on Texas, since it was the big winner in the census data, with a 20 percent decennial population jump and four new seats in Congress. Most of that growth can be attributed to one demographic group: Hispanics. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram this morning quoted state demographer Lloyd Potter saying: "When we look at our projections, they suggest that somewhere around 70 percent of those new Texans added to the state are of Hispanic descent."
Take a look at the Texas exit polls for the last two election cycles, and you see the political significance of the growth in the Texas Hispanic population. In 2008, Texas Hispanics voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama, 63 percent-35 percent. In the 2010 governor's race, Hispanics voted for Democrat Bill White by a similarly lopsided margin, 61 percent-38 percent.
That's not to say that the growth in Texas' Hispanic population will be to the exclusive benefit of Democrats, and it certainly doesn't mean Texas will take on a blue tinge anytime soon. But it certainly does undercut the notion that demographics of the new census show unqualified good news for conservatives and the GOP.