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Is New Math the Future of the Census?

August 6, 2012 Census Stuff No Comments

» Washington Post: Census chief Robert Groves: We’ve got to stop counting like this

Robert Groves, on his way out the door at the Census …

“Because of the constitution, the country will always have a census,” he said in an interview Friday at his office in the bureau’s Suitland headquarters, already stripped of his personal belongings. “But how we do the census and surveys will have to change.”

Cost is a big reason. Even though it came in $1.9 billion under budget, the last census cost $13 billion, about $42 a head. The pricetag has doubled every decade since 1970.

So there’s talk of relying more and more on private databases. At the basic level, there’s something to be said for that. But once you get beyond household utilities and tax records, I’m curious where that trend leads to.

A Quickie Early Vote Aggrepost

July 26, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

Since I’m up early and a few links seem worth a mention …

» New Republic: Achilles Tar Heel
North Carolina and Virginia are definitely going to be some of the most interesting states to see how the Presidential race moves (or doesn’t).

» Chron: Galveston dropping resistance to public housing
» GC Daily News: Isle officials briefed on GLO’s housing plan

I’m not one for denigrating the wisdom of voters, even if my preferred candidate loses. But Galveston voters aren’t helping much with their choice of mayor in the last election.

» Wash. Post: Baltimore puts out welcome mat for immigrants, hoping to stop population decline
There are actually a number of tenents to Baltimore’s efforts. Not harrassing undocumented residents is one of them. If I were the scorecard-carrying type, I might bemoan this sort of coverage as “biased.” Instead, it’s just incomplete and a little lazy. There is a quote from a Baltimore elected who does begin to introduce some of the additional context, the reporter just ends the story there for all intents and purposes. The city of Baltimore has apparently been focusing on population for quite a while and the latest Census info didn’t exactly do any wonders. Here’s the Baltimore Sun’s topic page for “population decline” for more context.

» NY Review of Books: Getting Away With It (Paul Krugman & Robin Wells)
Set aside for reading on Wednesday or any insomnia attack before then. I downloaded a preview of the Scheiber and Edsall books. Edsall’s is a definite for continuing on with and I may opt for Chris Hayes’ latest instead of Scheiber’s. For his review, I’m merely hoping that Krugman is better suited for elaboration in a long-form take rather than his usual spotty analysis in his blog or column. That said, I wasn’t much of a fan of his book, “The Conscience of a Liberal.”

» Foreign Affairs: Confucius and the Ballot Box [$]
This looks interesting for a little dose of continuing education in Asian politics. So it goes into the Wednesday reading pile. I’m assuming this will relate more to the impact that a lack of democracy has to American foreign policy. But I’ll be reading for some extra hints on any meaning for Asian voters (and more importantly, non-voters) here at home.

And on a non-political, non-current-affairs sort of note, I’ll offer a sermon of choice …

» Mars Hill Church: A Church That Believes in “We” and “Opt-In”
With a little bit of gratuitous back-patting over catching up on some Mars Hill podcasts, I happened to spin a few old sermons in order of their delivery. So now I’m on a kick to read through the book of Acts (and possibly restart this old habit), which this sermon is part of a series on. Sadly, I realized that my spotty record of downloading sermons finds me 7 downloads short of the 24-part series on Acts. So a small sacrifice of remuneration to the altar of archived podcasts must be given.

ADD-ON: One late entry via facebook discovery …

» Texas Monthly: Why Johnny Can’t Learn
The book under review definitely seems like a worthwhile read if I ever remember to pick up Ravitch’s last one to read as a preview.

The Over/Under Extremes for the State House

February 18, 2011 2011 Redistricting No Comments

Below are the most over-populated and under-populated State Rep districts throughout Texas. Not surprisingly, they track with some of the known overall growth patterns: high growth in Collin County, north of Plano; high growth in the Katy area and northerwestern (Cypress) area of Harris County. The slow-growth area still being in the inner-city cores.

What’s interesting here is that, among the redistricting arguments you will here is that future growth patterns are an allowable reason for population variation. Districts 70 and 132 started the decade pretty close to the maximum deviation for underpopulation, which really puts an exclamation point behind them being the top two most over-populated districts.

What’s interesting, though, is that some of the slow-growth areas also started the decade underpopulated. In the case of District 22, that may have been because expanding the district out would have made it harder to maintain over 50% African-American population. As-is, that district cuts into Orange County, which is a pretty unusual county slice. But Anchia’s District 103 nearly maxes out the under-represenation limit and would not have had any problem adding population while still staying close to the 66% VAP Hispanic population it started off with. In fact, only one of the listed under-populated districts started the decade off as over-populated.

On a sidenote, 28 districts are within the allowed +/-5% range for state population.

Most Overpopulated
HD70 – Ken Paxton (McKinney, Collin County)
2010 population: 300,801 – overpopulated by 133,164
2000 population: 132,671 – underpopulated by 6,341 (4.56%)

HD132 – Bill Callegari (West Harris County)
2010 population: 264,426 – overpopulated by 96,789
2000 population: 133,149 – underpopulated by 5,863 (4.22%)

HD28 – John Zerwas (Fort Bend, Waller, Wharton)
2010 population: 263,682 – overpopulated by 96,045
2000 population: 139,748 – overpopulated by 736 (0.53%)

HD89 – Jodie Laubenberg (Collin, Rockwall)
2010 population: 253,976 – overpopulated by 86,339
2000 population: 134,550 – underpopulated by 4,462 (3.21%)

HD130 – Allen Fletcher (Northwest Harris County)
2010 population: 252,386 – overpopulated by 84,749
2000 population: 134,227 – underpopulated by 4,785 (3.44%)

Most Underpopulated
HD103 – Rafael Anchia (Dallas)
2010 population: 117,346 – underpopulated by 50,291
2000 population: 132,316 – underpopulated by 6,696 (4.82%)

HD22 – Joe Deshotel (Jefferson, Orange)
2010 population: 126,184 – underpopulated by 41,453
2000 population: 133,159 – underpopulated by 5,853 (4.21%)

HD114 – Will Hartnett (Dallas)
2010 population: 126,576 – underpopulated by 41,061
2000 population: 141,298 – overpopulated by 2,286 (1.64%)

HD143 – Ana Hernandez (Houston)
2010 population: 127,381 – underpopulated by 40,256
2000 population: 133,869 – underpopulated by 5,143 (3.70%)

Census View of Bexar County State Reps

February 18, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

Yet another one to add to the “to-be-mapped” list. Bexar County’s magic number is 10.23, so they have the unusual task of keeping the same number of seats (Travis County will also maintain their current level). And with that, there’s still some pretty wild population swings that will have to be adjusted for. As I’m sure anyone who’s familiar with the county knows, the north/northwestern part of the county grew like wildfire.

So here’s what jumps out to me:

- Two majority-Anglo districts. The surprising part, though, is that both represent fairly slim majorities, yet each district has an outsized share of GOP vote within them. Again … sometimes demographics alone don’t tell the full story.

- The two most over-populated districts are right by each other. It could be interesting to see if that means there might be an opening for former State Rep. David Liebowitz to return in 2012. And, not surprisingly, the two most under-populated districts are side-by-side. One of those members is the Vice-Chair of the Redistricting Committee. It’ll be interesting to see if that works in Villareal’s favor, or if there’s a clear divide within the committee like there was in 2001. I wouldn’t expect it to be an excuse to pair the two incumbents, but you never know.

Usual caveat: as noted in the Harris and Dallas County version of this post, +/- is based on the countywide average for number of seats while the overall state map will require a +/- 5% in terms of population variation statewide.

   DISTRICT       +/-   Population  Hisp%     Asian%   Afram%    Anglo%
116-Fischer     -28,533   142,944   69.14%    4.03%    4.74%    20.49%
117-Garza        48,883   220,360   63.04%    2.35%    5.31%    27.34%
118-Farias      -18,668   152,809   68.18%    1.02%    3.03%    26.48%
119-Gutierrez   -14,371   157,106   71.12%    0.79%    7.15%    19.61%
120-McClendon    -8,290   163,187   50.85%    1.82%   25.62%    19.39%
121-Straus      -12,604   158,873   35.40%    2.45%    6.75%    53.23%
122-Larson       75,369   246,846   32.35%    4.29%    3.67%    57.59%
123-Villarreal  -39,035   132,442   74.05%    0.85%    3.15%    20.86%
124-Menéndez      6,567   178,044   69.88%    1.76%    6.51%    19.81%
125-Castro       -9,315   162,162   68.91%    2.52%    4.17%    22.84%


Census View of Dallas County State Reps

February 18, 2011 Census Stuff 4 Comments

Another one that I’ll get around to mapping out later in the weekend. Dallas County’s magic number is 14.1, so there’s no path that I see to avoid them losing two seats. And with the exception of HD109, every district essentially has to grow a little to add population. Dallas should be a pretty clear cut case of watching the GOP devour one of their own, barring retirement by any of the members.

A couple of things jump out from the demographics:

- Linda Harper-Brown’s current district is now much more evident as to why it’s become so competitive. That 17% Asian population isn’t going un-noticed, but I’m curious what the voter rolls suggest in the district. It’s close to DFW airport and there’s a sizable stewardessflight attendant population in the apartments nearby. How many of them are registered voters is a bigger question than anything else.

- Like Harris County, Dallas County has a “black-to-brown” problem with some over-extended African-American districts carrying a higher share of Hispanic voters now and with African-American populations under 40%.

- Comparing the demographics of HD102 and HD107 strikes me as interesting since the early voting results in 2010 had 102′s Carol Kent being the lowest-running incumbent Dem and I figured that 107′s Allen Vaught might hang on. In the end, Kent performed a mere point less than Vaught. But the demographics are a little more uphill in Vaught’s 107. That may or may not be an indicator that he had a little better crossover support, it might not mean much of anything. But it’s at least a interesting datapoint. Certainly worth watching to see what district (and what kind of district) Vaught falls in for 2012.

As noted in the Harris County version of this post, +/- is based on the countywide average for number of seats while the overall state map will require a +/- 5% in terms of population variation statewide.

   DISTRICT       +/-   Population  Hisp%     Asian%   Afram%    Anglo%
100-Johnson    -20,119   149,033    46.51%    1.41%   37.61%    13.31%
101-Burkett     -5,551   163,601    32.70%    3.43%   21.42%    40.30%
102-Carter     -37,825   131,327    35.58%    5.67%   19.08%    37.85%
103-Anchia     -51,806   117,346    74.54%    2.17%    7.15%    15.23%
104-Alonzo     -37,252   131,900    81.40%    0.66%    7.54%     9.61%
105-Harper-Brn  -4,914   164,238    35.67%   16.83%   13.87%    31.10%

106-Anderson    -9,436   159,716    49.93%    4.91%   13.22%    30.02%
107-Sheets     -28,695   140,457    36.77%    2.35%   10.60%    48.67%
108-Branch     -25,621   143,531    23.61%    4.04%    6.67%    63.87%
109-Giddings     6,103   175,255    17.69%    0.78%   63.66%    16.19%
110-Caraway    -18,449   150,703    47.52%    0.19%   38.17%    13.02%

111-Davis       -5,778   163,374    35.51%    1.47%   46.72%    14.98%
112-Button     -20,241   148,911    23.09%   13.69%   11.00%    49.83%
113-Driver      -7,849   161,303    30.02%    7.23%   15.86%    44.76%
114-Harnett    -42,576   126,576    28.76%    4.36%   14.20%    50.80%
115-Jackson    -28,284   140,868    26.89%    9.24%    7.50%    54.27%

Census View of Harris County State Reps

February 17, 2011 Houston/Harris 2 Comments

I’ll get around to mapping this out for a visual overview of the situation. But, for now, here’s the math-heavy view of things. The demographics are interesting enough, but if you want to see whether districts need to shrink or expand, the +/- number is the key. I calculated the county population divided by 24 to get an average of 170,519.

A couple of caveats … first, there’s no telling if there might be some magic trick to allow Harris County to get 25 seats. I have a hard time seeing it, so I’m operating under the assumption that we get 24 for the sake of planning ahead. Second, the entire state map has to contain districts that are +/- 5% in terms of population variation which will be calculated against the statewide average – not the county average. That number is 167,637. So, at maximum, a district can contain 176,018 people and a minimum of 159,255. All that to say: I use the countywide average as a simple baseline, but it’s not the magical number that the Justice Department will be looking at.

That aside, some of the highlights that jump out at me:
- Not one district in Harris County presently has a majority of African-American population. The decade started with four districts that had a bare majority and two that were between 45-50%. In fact, Harold Dutton and Garnet Coleman’s districts are under 40% African-American. For all the critics of the VRA, I can’t help but notice a positive in there. Of course, there’s a point to be made that the share of African-American protected seats is inflated. Harris County is 18.4% African-American. Out of 24 seats, that would warrant 4.4 seats. Yet we have 6 African-American seats. Will the GOP lege look at that as an opportunity to put one of those seats on the cutting-room floor? There’s a lot of interesting math at work in many of these districts, so I’ll probably get around to a full blog post devoted solely to this topic.

- My district – HD137 – now has almost 64% Hispanic population. It was originally drawn to at 55% Hispanic. That almost evenly matches the decline in Anglo population. Throughout the county, 10 seats are majority-Hispanic. 5 others are plurality-Hispanic.

- Six districts now have over 10% Asian population in Harris County. More growth in the Asian population happened outside of city limits than within. Welcome to the new world of minority population diffusion!

Disitrict         +/-   Population  Hisp%     Asian%   Afram%    Anglo%
126-Harless     1,755   172,274    29.58%    9.23%    20.88%    38.33%
127-Huberty    16,583   187,102    23.74%    2.09%    11.00%    61.33%
128-Smith     -21,702   148,817    37.53%    1.45%    10.00%    49.47%
129-Davis     -19,721   150,798    20.26%   10.62%     7.72%    58.90%
130-Fletcher   81,867   252,386    22.10%    7.07%     9.16%    59.54%

131-Allen     -17,630   152,889    41.48%    3.78%    45.36%     8.17%
132-Callegari  93,907   264,426    37.46%    7.10%    13.72%    39.53%
133-Murphy    -15,223   155,296    36.61%   11.78%    23.23%    26.34%
134-Davis     -23,373   147,146    12.73%   10.78%     4.61%    69.69%
135-Elkins     -3,582   166,937    39.91%   11.41%    12.51%    34.31%

136-Woolley   -23,665   146,854    23.63%    8.82%     6.66%    58.88%
137-Hochberg  -32,643   137,876    63.75%   10.57%    12.76%    11.55%
138-Bohac     -33,638   136,881    51.41%    4.24%     9.22%    33.80%
139-Turner    -19,600   150,919    44.22%    4.02%    44.27%     6.42%
140-Walle     -31,244   139,275    83.98%    0.56%     6.71%     8.24%

141-Thompson   14,201   184,720    43.56%    1.58%    40.12%    13.33%
142-Dutton    -15,725   154,794    45.21%    1.60%    39.22%    12.79%
143-Hernandez -43,138   127,381    85.66%    0.28%     2.26%    11.22%
144-Legler       -804   169,715    56.04%    4.80%     7.23%    30.68%
145-Alvarado  -37,789   132,730    85.89%    1.75%     3.18%     8.61%

146-Miles     -27,399   143,120    22.62%    7.60%    46.81%    21.39%
147-Coleman   -23,662   146,857    38.50%    3.67%    37.45%    18.81%
148-Farrar    -29,573   140,946    59.29%    1.79%     8.42%    29.38%
149-Vo           -683   169,836    33.12%   18.31%    23.22%    23.26%
150-Riddle     41,965   212,484    25.99%    4.71%    16.49%    50.46%


First Pass: Harris/Fort Bend Census Numbers

February 17, 2011 Houston/Harris No Comments

The 2010 State of Houston-area Demographics …

             Harris             Ft. Bend       
Total     4,092,459            585,375               
Anglo     1,349,646  32.98%    211,680  36.16% 
Afr-Am      754,258  18.43%    123,267  21.06%
Asian       249,853   6.11%     98,762  16.87% 
Hispanic  1,671,540  40.84%    138,967  23.74%

             Houston            Sugar Land
Total     2,099,451            78,817
Anglo       537,901  25.62%    35,014  44.42%
Afr-Am      485,956  23.15%     5,744   7.29%
Asian       124,859   5.95%    27,672  35.11%
Hispanic    919,668  43.81%     8,324  10.56%


The fact that Houston clocks in at 2.099M instead of 2.1M warrants some attention. I’d think we might go ahead and draw 11 districts anyways, but the fact that there’s a differing datapoint may very well mean that any party who doesn’t like the end product map will have something to argue in front of a judge regardless of which way we go. I’m spending more time in front of numbers than I am news … hopefully there’s a quick statement from Mayor Parker on which route we go.

As for Harris County, I’ll be curious if the VAP numbers track with Hispanics being the plurality in the county. If so, I think it makes it very difficult to argue for three safe Anglo GOP seats and zero Hispanic opportunity seats. Either of the two proposals I drafted strike me as being worth some consideration.

UPDATE: Via Council Member Ed Gonzalez, the city is proceeding with plans to add two new council seats despite the Census showing us a hair short of the 2.1M population count. Good to see that!

Early Numbers from the Census

February 17, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

The Census puts out some prelim numbers while I await the raw data. As expected, growth tracks with the suburbs. Of more immediate political importance is the fact that the Harris County number for State Representative seats clocks in at 24.4126. I knew I should’ve bet Doc Murray on that! Unfortunately, it means we’re now likely to lose a State House seat in Harris County. Dallas County’s number is 14.1266 – as expected, they’ll lose a seat. Tarrant County’s number is 10.79 – as expected, they’ll gain a seat.

Texas in 2010: Majority Minority

February 17, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

» SA Express-News: 2010 Census: State increasingly urban, Latino

The big-picture numbers are out …

The iconic image of Texas is fading further into history, as new data from the 2010 Census shows that the state is increasingly urban and Latino.

According to the Associated Press, Latino’s accounted for two-thirds of the state’s growth over the last decade.

Latinos now make up 38 percent of the population, up from 32 percent in 2000, according to the AP.

The Anglo population has now dropped to 45.3 percent, down from 52.4 percent in 2000. About 11.5 percent of the population is black, unchanged from 10 years ago.

Almost all of the state’s population growth is expected to have occurred in just four areas: Houston-Galveston, Dallas-Fort Worth, the Austin-San Antonio corridor and the lower Rio Grande Valley.

I’ll be in the weeds of those particular details all weekend long.

Before & After: 2000 I35 Region Population Density

February 17, 2011 2011 Redistricting No Comments

One final map product before the 2010 numbers land in my lap. This is the “before” picture of the I35 Corridor, which is expected to have substantial population gains over the last decade. Zoom out for the bigger picture or scroll around for the other counties in the area.

As I get numbers together, I’ll ultimately be looking at where population in each section grew (plus, I’m hoping to do a South Texas map completed over the weekend) and what demographic groups accounted for that change. Because, ya know … that’s how I roll.

- If you prefer a bigger map, here ya go.
- If you want to look at the file in Google Earth, here’s that.

dark green – 5,000 people per square mile
green – 2,500 people per square mile
light green – 500 people per square mile

Light Blogging Ahead

February 16, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

Census data may become available as early as tomorrow. Even if it’s not, I’m still backlogged with a lot of pre-work that goes into getting ready for the analysis work that will follow from having the new numbers. So I’ll basically be in Excel/mySQL/PHP/Google API hell through Monday.

Should some portion of the world blow up between then and now, I trust you’ll get the news elsewhere. But when you want to see income differences broken up by Census block groups, you know where to find me. Expect some population density and demographic maps to be posted as soon as possible. But the more “in-the-weeds” type of data will wait until I’ve gone through things a bit more comprehensively.

Before & After: 2000 Greater DFW Population Density

February 15, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

As a second act to the Houston population density map from the 2000 Census, the DFW Metroplex version is below.

As far as what to anticipate, I’m obviously not as deep into the weeds here as I am with the greater Houston area. But what should make this region more interesting is that the population in Dallas County is nowhere near keeping up with the average growth in surrounding counties. So while the current map has a lot of the high-density areas in Dallas, it’ll be interesting to see where some of the mid-range density census tracts start to move up.

One easy target to look at is anywhere around McKinney and Frisco in Collin County. Already, tract 30503 (western McKinney) has grown from a total population of 11,868 in 2000 to a count of 52,441 as of the 2005-09 ACS data. Massive development projects have a way of doing that. Needless to say, expect that number to be higher when the 2010 data is out.

- If you prefer a bigger map, here ya go.
- If you want to look at the file in Google Earth, here’s that.

dark green – 5,000 people per square mile
green – 2,500 people per square mile
light green – 500 people per square mile

Before & After: 2000 Greater Houston Population Density

February 15, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

While we’re waiting on the new Census data to come out this week, I thought I’d go ahead and start prepping some “Before” snapshots to compare against when I have new maps drawn. Below is the population density of the greater Houston area (Harris Co. plus all surrounding counties) with darkest representing the most densely populated census tracts in the 2000 Census. You can click around the map to see what the specific population density is for a given census tract. For the purpose of this map, I calculated solely on the Census’ calculation of land area and didn’t include water area. It makes a slight difference in a few areas.

Using the tract-by-tract calculations, Harris County overall contained 1,990 people per square mile, with 1703 square miles of land area. Those numbers are obviously up in the American Community Survey data. Wikipedia lists the 2008 estimate at 2,302 per square mile. While we all have some anecdotal understanding of where we expect to see some increases in population density, I’d still expect a surprise or two (or a lot more).

Of some interest for now is the density in Gulfton’s tract 4212 (next door to mine). It has a density of 23,700 people per square mile. A lot of apartment complexes in the area help that along. Some of the lighter spots you see in and around the loop may be light because they include parks, reservoirs and other open areas. Memorial Park is in tract 5108 and has a substantially lower population density of 1,374 people per square mile.

I’ve done some preliminary analysis in a few areas of Harris County to see what population growth rates overall looked like overall and which demographic changes went into building that population. Alief is one interesting area since the Asian population there has been stagnant (as of the ACS data), but the overall population has been growing due to Hispanic growth. Among the areas where there has been explosive growth in the Asian population, the northwest side of town has been the place to be. It’ll be interesting to see what the parallel is in Sugar Land. Likewise, some of the overall high-growth areas (Galveston Co. suburbs, Northwest Harris County, parts of Montgomery County) will be interesting to review as well. I still need to do some repair work on the map file in order to add the Bolivar Peninsula tracts, but it will also be interesting to see the impact of the hurricane-related exodus from there, as well as any changes on Galveston Island.

Feel free to poke around and see what areas of interest jump out at you.


- If you prefer a bigger map, here ya go.
- If you want to look at the file in Google Earth, here’s that.

dark green – 5,000 people per square mile
green – 2,500 people per square mile
light green – 500 people per square mile

The Census Is Coming! … The Census Is Coming!

February 14, 2011 Census Stuff 1 Comment

» FW Star-Telegram: Redistricting struggles in Texas Legislature will start in earnest with release of detailed census data
» Chron: Did national head count overlook too many people?

Lock your doors, seal your windows. Demographers and cartographers will be on the prowl soon enough. Each week, the Census Bureau releases a set of states’ redistricting data, which allows you get into the weeds of population changes and demographic patterns in each state. This week, Texas is up. Hope ya like maps and data, because it’s a big state and I’ve been feeling my way around with Google’s API for a few years.

For now, there are two early implications to ponder:

- What it might mean for redistricting. That’s what the FWST covers. It’s a basic stage-setter for the redistricting process, with little of the contentiousness that will inevitably occur. What I found most interesting is this:

The material will include tables on race and political geography down to census blocks and voting districts. Once it arrives in Texas, staff members at the Texas Legislative Council, a legislative support agency, will put the information into Redistricting Application, a software program that has been the state’s main redistricting database since 1990. Allowing a week or two for council staff to process and test the data, lawmakers and other interested parties will be able to tap into the material from their own computers — including laptops — as the Legislature gets into the heavy lifting on political redistricting.

I sure hope that that “week or two” timeline is just a CYA estimate. Last week’s datasets came out in time for me to be playing with Arkansas data on Friday morning. If that happens this week with Texas, you now have advance notice to buy stock in the manufacturers of Vivarin and Mountain Dew Code Red as I look for ways to minimize sleep time and maximize laptop battery life over the weekend. Granted, all I’m doing is cherry-picking some data that I want to see while the state probably has to load more. But I can’t get over that contrast of a 5-minute download/data-manipulation/data-upload process on my part to a two-week process on their part. If it happens to slake anyone’s curiosity any sooner, I’ll be making my data and mapping tools readily available as soon as I’ve had time to do a little QC on the uploaded data.

Two things jump out at me in this clip from the Chron article, both involving Texas’ Asian population:

Estimates indicate 61 percent of population growth in Texas has been among Latinos, Murdock said. All minority groups together accounted for 85 percent of population growth in Texas between 2000 and 2009.

While most demographers expect Texas’ African-American population to remain stable – it made up 11.5 percent of the population in 2000 – they predict an increase in residents of Asian ancestry, a category that includes people of Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean descent, as well as those from South Asian countries such as India and Pakistan.

Most Asian-Americans are concentrated in a handful of Texas counties, including Fort Bend, Ellis and Williamson, Murdock said.

The increase could affect redistricting, with some groups calling for an Asian-centric district in Fort Bend County, said Lloyd Potter, the state demographer and director of the Texas State Data Center.

First, a little disclosure with regard to the first point: I’m doing some work on behalf of the Texas Asian-American Redistricting Initiative, which is a project of the Asian-American Justice Center. As such, I’m not aware of anyone “calling for an Asian-centric district in Fort Bend County.” I’d be curious who Lloyd Potter has talked to on the matter. The map I did as an experiment to see what the numbers would look like in an Asian-maximized Congressional district, the contours of the district obviously went well beyond Fort Bend County. As far as State Rep seats, Charlie Howard’s Fort Bend seat is already at 26% “Other” (which is usually about a point or so more than what the Asian numbers are). I do happen to think there are some improvements that could be made to Senate District 17 with regard to the Asian-American population (nothing that drastically impacts the current partisan tilt of the district). But even here, the overall Asian-American percentage as of 2001 was a mere 12%. Considering that the “fantasy” Congressional district was only 20% Asian, I think it’s safe to say that hitting that high of a target with a larger Senate District would be tough.

The second thing that jumps out is what I hope is a mere transcription error from Murdock to the reporter. Ellis County does not have a substantial number of Asian-Americans. What Ellis County does have, however, is a phonetic similarity to “Harris.” To be precise, the 2005-09 American Community Survey data showed there being less than 1000 Ellis County residents of Asian descent, or 0.6% of the county’s population. Murdock knows his stuff, so I’m assuming reporter error on this one.

I haven’t gotten too deep into Williamson County, so Murdock’s point about that area is one I’ll be sure to look into. Austin’s highest concentrations of Asian-Americans are along the northern border of the county, so it makes sense that more than a few would see WilCo as a suitable alternative. Among the counties he didn’t mention was Collin County, which I think will raise some eyebrows with their share of Asian-American population. The 2000 Census had the county at 6.9% Asian, while the 2005-09 ACS data had it at 9.8%. Similar to the explanation given for demographic change in Arkansas’ Pulaski County, I wouldn’t be shocked to see it a point or two higher when we have the 2010 data. In other words: the Asian population could approach doubling in ten years. By comparison, Williamson County shows less than 5% Asian population as of the ACS release.

All in all, we’ll have a clearer picture by Friday at the earliest. You’re now on notice for a deluge of maps explaining a variety of demographic patterns throughout Texas that are of interest to me. If there’s anything of particular interest to you and that can be derived from Census data, feel free to drop a comment or an email.

A Few Notes From the LWV Redistricting Forum

February 12, 2011 Houston/Harris No Comments

So, Thursday night was another redistricting forum around town. This time, it was a League of Women Voters event at the Judson Robinson Community Center. A few points to highlight from a couple of folks on the panel:

From Doc Murray’s discussion …
- The GOP would be making a huge mistake to redistrict according to 2010 turnout. Couldn’t agree more. Not that I wouldn’t mind if they tried, because it could ultimately lead to an interesting wave of new Democratic elected officials in some very interesting parts of the state. In the comments of another post, I started to lay out a bit of what it means to redistrict after a “high tide” election. The Travis County experience in 2001 for the GOP is pretty instructive here. See the comment for the nickel version of the story.

- He thinks the calculation for number of State Rep seats for Harris County will come in between 24.6 and 24.7. Go ahead and call me the pessimist on this one. I think it won’t be able to be rounded up to 25 this time. I’m a bit more of a stickler for harder, more concrete evidence … Dr. Murray is fairly good at projecting out. We’ll see which one of us knows our stuff once the numbers are in. But this’ll be among the first things I look at when the data rolls out.

And from Carroll Robinson …
- More African-Americans live outside of the 610 Loop than live within it. I’m not sure why that sounded as surprising as it did at the meeting. Considering the concentrations of Fifth Ward and Sunnyside that exist outside of the Loop – and the fact that only a portion of Fifth Ward and most/all of Third Ward exist within the Loop, and it seems fairly common sense that the math would support that assertion. But there is something to say that much of the growth that exists in many ethnic communities in Harris County does take place outside of the traditionally understood areas of ethnic populations. I’ve been screaming that point from the mountaintops with regard to Hispanics in Harris County.

There was quite a bit made of Voter ID at the event: Carroll brought it up initially, and the guy from MALDEF carried it a little as well. I honestly don’t know what that has to do with redistricting, but I can at least appreciate that it’s a very hot topic with LWV types who get the obvious impact it will have on the rights of voters.

It was a little odd watching a presentation of an African-American, a Hispanic, and an Asian, talking about redistricting from their perspectives to an audience that was skewed to the older and more Anglo side of the spectrum. As you can expect, there was the obvious (yet humorously polite) question about why race should matter. Unexpected by at least me was the one paranoid crank who had a nice, lengthy pitch about “black-box voting” when people were supposed to be asking questions of the panel. In fairness to the guy, he did identify himself properly by wearing a hoodie.

Census Surprises Ahead?

February 11, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

While we’re waiting for Texas redistricting data to come out, I’m doing what any normal person would do: using the state data that is out for a trial run of what I’d look at for Harris County data (and the rest of Texas, I should add). In the case below, here’s what Arkansas’ Pulaski County (Little Rock) looks like in terms of their demographic makeup in the 2000 and 2010 Census, as well as the intermediate datapoint that the 2005-09 American Community Survey provides.

Pulaski County, Arkansas

                     2000      2005-09      2010
Anglo               64.0%       58.0%      55.3%  
African-American    31.9%       33.7%      34.8%
Hispanic             2.4%        4.2%       5.8%
Total Population   361,474    375,518    382,748


I broke it up this way in order to look at how the ACS data gives us a fairly conservative estimate of population changes. As you can see, the decline in Anglo population in the county was under-represented. That makes intuitive sense, considering that you’re using datapoints from earlier time periods that don’t reflect the fully evolved state of demographic change that the Census reflects.

We’ve got about a week before we know whether Harris County has some similar surprises, as we know the Anglo population share is declining here.

UPDATE: Pulaski County (zoomed into Little Rock), mapped out with African-American population concentrations plotted by block group. You can click on the individual block group to get a sense of each area’s demographics.

If you prefer a bigger map, here ya go.

Dark Green = 60%+
Green = 45-60%
Light Green = 30-45%
Gray = 0-30%

Counting “Other”

February 11, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

» NY Times: Counting by Race Can Throw Off Some Numbers

Demography: still destiny … still unclear.

The chameleon-like quality of Ms. López-Mullins’s racial and ethnic identification might seem trivial except that statistics on ethnicity and race are used for many important purposes. These include assessing disparities in health, education, employment and housing, enforcing civil rights protections, and deciding who might qualify for special consideration as members of underrepresented minority groups.

But when it comes to keeping racial statistics, the nation is in transition, moving, often without uniformity, from the old “mark one box” limit to allowing citizens to check as many boxes as their backgrounds demand. Changes in how Americans are counted by race and ethnicity are meant to improve the precision with which the nation’s growing diversity is gauged: the number of mixed-race Americans, for example, is rising rapidly, largely because of increases in immigration and intermarriage in the past two decades. (One in seven new marriages is now interracial or interethnic.)

In the process, however, a measurement problem has emerged. Despite the federal government’s setting standards more than a decade ago, data on race and ethnicity are being collected and aggregated in an assortment of ways. The lack of uniformity is making comparison and analysis extremely difficult across fields and across time.

The article represents a second NYT star turn for Michelle López-Mullins. Much of the issue that this article addresses is seen by anyone that tries to make heads or tails of demographic data from the Census or any other federal agency. Much of what I crank out on this topic these days has four categories: Anglo, African-American, Hispanic, and Asian. For purposes of political communications, it’s a useful and instructive breakdown. Much of what would fall under the “Other” category rarely reaches 2% of the population.

What’s leading to the heightened attention is the growth rate of “Other” and the fact that there are, increasingly, pockets where it reaches significantly higher. I’ve been playing around with Louisiana’s redistricting info this week and you can see a bit of that, likely due to Cajun & Creole populations in that state. But even there, it’s still rare to see a census tract that gets more than 5% “Other.”

Regardless of what happens to alleviate the reporting problem that this article covers, I think it’s safe to say the matter will be getting increasingly difficult to solve as more time passes.

The Unsorted Suburbs: Maryland’s Prince George County

February 10, 2011 Census Stuff No Comments

» Washington Post: Minorities are majority population in Montgomery County

Stuff to get used to …

In Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, whites were largely replaced by Hispanics, a Washington Post analysis of the detailed census statistics shows. Hispanics outnumber blacks in Montgomery and just edge past whites in Prince George’s County.

Barely 49 percent of Montgomery’s 972,000 residents are non-Hispanic whites, down from almost 60 percent in 2000 and 72 percent a decade before that. Hispanics rose by two-thirds and make up about 17 percent of the county’s population.

The census figures surprised some residents but reinforced what’s readily evident.

Any further questions as to why I think Bill Bishop’s “The Big Sort” is faulty in it’s analysis?

You can expect to see a lot of shifts like this here once the Texas numbers are out. But even more interesting will be determining what it means for political impact. I wouldn’t expect the answers to be as obvious as “more Hispanics = more Democratic votes” in ever instance.

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