Sign up for our newsletter.

Get informed on the stuff that matters.
Take simple immediate actions with impact.

Political Censations

First off, what is the census?

It sounds like a terrifying exam and involves multiple choice answers! EEEK. But don't worry, it's actually pretty simple. The U.S. Census is simply a count of every resident in the United States. It's mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and takes place every 10 years.

Sounds like a big undertaking. Why bother?

It's actually pretty important. The data collected by the census determines the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. It's also used to distribute billions in federal funds to local communities.

What do I need to know to ace the census?

You won't have to fill in any bubbles until 2020, but to ace the census as a nation we need to make sure it remains a non-partisan undertaking. This is easier said than done - like everything done by the government, the census can get political. Everything from which questions get asked to how the survey is funded are impacted by the ruling party.

Here's the latest: This year, Heir Irradiated Cheeto is rumored to be considering Thomas Brunell, a Texas political science professor with no government experience, to the top operational job at the U.S. Census Bureau. Brunell is, among other things, the author of a 2008 book titled "Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America." Yep. You read that correctly. The guy who might run the census has literally written a book about why we don't need to create districts that accurately reflect the views of the public. (He's also served as an expert witness many times to support of GOP-led states being accused of gerrymandering.)

So once again, we remind you that the census determines which states lose and gain electoral votes and seats in the House of Representatives. Ugh, another Trump crisis in the wings. (WHEN DO WE GET TO NAP?!)

How worried should I be?

Medium? Here's the issue - a partisan census administrator could wind up subtly shifting voting districts in the GOP's favor. Because of this, the long-held tradition has been to select a non-partisan government official as deputy director of the U.S. Census Bureau. The job has usually been held by a career civil servant with a background in statistics. AS IT SHOULD BE.

What are some specific issues to look out for should Brunell get the job?

Glad you asked.

  • BUDGET: The Trump administration's 2018 budget request for the Census Bureau, was just 7% above its 2017 level. The budget usually increases as it gets to the 10-year mark as the organization needs to staff up and open offices nationwide. Limited funding can contribute to an inaccurate count.
  • CITIZENSHIP: Republicans are in favor of adding a question asking respondents about their immigration status. Many fear such a question would cause a drop in response rates among minorities.
  • MATH: If chosen to lead the census, Brunell has little experience in federal statistics or at managing a big organization, which are skills necessary for the position.
  • CONFLICT OF INTEREST: Brunell was critical of new statistical adjustments included in the 2000 census intended to more accurately count minorities and other groups who are relatively less likely to respond to the census.

The decennial census has always been a primary source of rich and objective data for use by researchers. It has been essential to have a non-partisan approach to ensure the survey's integrity. As with everything about this administration, however, integrity (and accurate math) might not be a priority.

Omg so tired.