The Census Bureau has released the first bundle of their 2010 data and findings, including which states will gain congressional seats based on population growth, and which will lose them. State legislatures need this data first so they can begin the grueling process of redistricting legislative districts as soon as they convene next year. But the Census Bureau has a lot more, less-time sensitive information that it will be releasing as time goes on. But the lack of full information doesn't matter to the Republican PR machine that is Fox News.
Fox News has decided what the preliminary data release means: people moved from states to high taxes to states with low taxes.
Here's Fox News' Martha MacCallum beating the drum:
MACCALLUM: But we do know that people vote with their feet, okay? And when you've got people leaving my beloved home state of New Jersey, I mean, the taxes are too high, and, you know, the government is having a tough time.
COLMES: Yeah, well, that's nice to make the assumption that people are leaving because of union issues, or because of right to work issues. How do we know they're not going there because of the weather? We don't know the motivation, we don't know why people are going from state to state. You're presuming-- Let me look at a map--
COLMES: It could be, hey, I like the warm weather of Arizona. I like the warm weather of Texas.
Of course, Fox News contributor Alan Colmes failed to persuade MacCallum that this particular correlation equals causation.
Of course, Fox News' relentless insistence that taxes are the main driving factor ignores other potential causes besides the weather.
To name one other factor: Many of the states that saw the highest rate of population growth also grew in their population of immigrants. It's true! I found out about it from Fox News' own website.
Several states with large immigration populations, both legal and illegal, will gain at least one seat out of the latest census numbers. They include Florida, Texas, Arizona and Nevada. South Carolina, Georgia and Washington state, which all saw unusually high rates of growth in their immigrant populations over the past decade, will also gain a congressional seat each. South Carolina, for instance, registered a 150 percent increase in its immigrant population, according to a CIS analysis.
Camarota said that regardless of whether the changes are coming from influxes of illegal or legal immigrants, more districts are going to be created with swaths of people in them who can't vote.
Additionally, overall growth in the Latino population of many of these states could account for much. Fox News Latino reports that, "many demographic experts have been expecting the 2010 Census to show that some of the largest growth in population would occur in states that are home to Hispanics, who have a higher birthrate than most other groups and include millions of immigrants."
And that doesn't even scratch the surface of all the factors that could be involved. For example, Georgia (which gained a seat), is #3 on the list of states with lowest overall cost of living. Texas, which gained four, is #7. New York (minus two) is #47, and New Jersey (minus one) is #45. Meanwhile, a quick look at the most recent National Vital Statistic Report from the CDC reveals that the birth rate is higher on average in states that gained seats than those that lost. Texas has a birth rate of 16.2, Utah (which gained a seat as well) has a staggering 19.4, and New York and Ohio, which lost two seats each, have 12.7 and 12.5, respectively. The average birth rate in states to gain seats was 14.61. In states to lose seats, it was 12.69
And why were taxes the deciding issue this time, when in 2000, high-tax California gained a seat?
The point isn't that it's inconceivable taxes played a role in demographic shifts. But to draw the conclusion that taxes were the decisive factor simply isn't warranted based on the data that is available.
Rather, it's simply another excuse for Fox to push the GOP's low-tax gospel.