Census Causes Political Turmoil
February 25, 2009
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Republican Senator Judd Gregg turned down his nomination for Commerce Secretary on Thursday, Feb. 12, when he openly declared his opposition to the Obama administration’s plans to use sampling to carry out the 2010 census.
The 2010 census is the first census in 30 years to be conducted under a Democratic administration. When President Obama nominated Gregg as Commerce Secretary, he received negative feedback from his fellow party members. Democrats protested Obama’s choice, claiming that Gregg would oppose their plans for conducting the census.
Officials have always struggled to obtain an accurate headcount of everyone living in the U.S. In fact, approximately eight million people were not counted in the 1990 census. However, the importance of the person overseeing the census goes far beyond the desire for a precise headcount. Democrats and Republicans are battling for power, and one easy way to get ahead is by slightly manipulating the methods used for the 2010 census.
According to Time Magazine, “Republicans would prefer to err on the side of undercounting and Democrats would prefer to err on the side of overcounting.”
Simply put, Republican policy is better suited in a slightly smaller population, whereas Democratic policy would benefit from a slightly larger population. Republicans in the House claim that the current administration plans to conduct the census in such a way as to “taint the results and open doors to massive waste of taxpayer funds.”
Aside from determining representation in Congress, the U.S. census helps to determine money flow to a particular city or state. Democrats want more federal dollars reaching poor communities, thus stressing the importance of sampling to reach a more accurate number of individuals. Republicans, on the other hand, believe that sampling is unconstitutional because the Constitution calls for “an actual enumeration” of people living in the U.S.