Political Impact of New Census Numbers

This is a rush transcript from "Special Repor," December 22, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


ROBERT GROVES, CENSUS BUREAU DIRECTOR: The resident U.S. population is 308,745,538 persons.


The effect of the official 2010 population counts at state level of Congressional apportionment is a shift of 12 seats affecting 18 different states.

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Beyond the electoral votes even in states that didn't have a change, you have the population flowing to places that tend to vote Republican more often, to the ex-urban localities rather than the central cities.


BRET BAIER, HOST OF “SPECIAL REPORT”: Well the census came out with new data today and talking about a slowing population growth. As you take a look at the population in the census figures over the last 30 years, there you see 308.7 million, this year's census and comparing it to 2000 to 1990.  What does it mean for house seats? Well in the pick-up, the gaining, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, Texas and Washington.  And states losing house seats: Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  Texas the big winner with four new House seats and Florida with two new House seats. What does it mean politically in the big picture?  Let's bring in our panel, Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard, Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Fred, your take?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Obviously the Republicans do better than Democrats because there will be more House votes. Look at Iowa and where he would lose one and then there is Michigan another state he won. If you took at the numbers, the new seats and you put them in the 2004 and 2008 presidential races, George Bush in 2004 picked up and four extra electoral votes in Texas because Texas has more seats.

So the Republicans, Bush in 2004 would have had six more electoral votes. Kerry six fewer, and John McCain would have had six more in 2008. It would have had an effect if you go to 2000 where Bush won by five electoral votes. If he picked up six it would have been divisive. It matters.

In the House races, they say the Republicans will do so well. I have been through these things where there are predictions with people doing well and it never works out that way. Republicans shouldn't get the hopes up too high.

BAIER: Mara, the White House, Robert Gibbs saying some are purple states and it depends on each race. Inside, do you think the Obama administration looked at the electoral map in 2012?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: The electoral map got harder for the president. Look at the gain for the mid-term election. All the new western state governments that flipped the big electoral rich must win for Democrats like Ohio and Michigan and Pennsylvania and Iowa and Illinois and Wisconsin.

The reason there are tens of millions of dollars spent on obscure state legislature races this fall is because of this. The census comes out and then we have reapportionment. Then you have redistricting. Every congressional district will have the boundary redrawn. Then the Republicans make enough gains to control governor mansion and state legislative body totally so they have control over about 195 congressional seats.

BAIER: In other words draw districts more favorable for Republicans so they get elected.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Exactly. In almost 200 of the districts, the Democrats have control of the two houses in the state, and governorship. Sorry, Republicans have control. So Republicans have a free hand drawing the line to make it work for Republicans. The Democrats have a quarter of those, about 50. So it's a huge district.

The reason it's important is obvious shift where you have the democratic states like New York losing seats, Texas among others, and Georgia, South Carolina, clearly Republican states are gaining, a swing of about six.

Then you add that are redrawn in state not gaping or losing where the Republicans in control of the house and governorship will enable them to gerrymander it.

At the presidential it looks as this is a switch of the six electoral votes which will make difference in close election. But what I think is hidden in this is a large percentage of the growth of states now red states Texas are Hispanic so not all seats ends up Republican. It could likely go Democratic. So it's not a one to one correlation.

BAIER: What about that, Fred? President met with the Hispanic caucus. It's still getting pushback from Hispanic groups saying you're not doing enough. But that could be a battleground in 2012.

BARNES: It certainly could. I agree with Charles. Remember how well Obama did better than two to one amongst Hispanic voters. There are not much Hispanics voting Republican. In the presidential race I don't know that they have lost appreciable Hispanic support.

Look at Illinois and New York. The Republicans picked up seven House seats. You can see the nature knocking off the two of the seven Republican seats and Illinois the same thing. It will surely be a Republican there.

Louisiana loses a seat and it's bound to be Republican seat but the Democrat is minority seat. So there are bigger things that affect the election than reapportionment.

BAIER: Mara, what about the other things you're seeing in the census data, where you see the people moving from the urban areas to the rural areas to try to find jobs outside of cities.

LIASSON: That is a trend going on for a long time. As Fred said, you can't read into the numbers, but it's generally a strong hold, and the 100 fastest growing counties how we used to talk about it where the Republicans are stronger. We see trends going on a long time, south and west.

BARNES: You had Democrats with a landslide in 2006 and 2008.

BAIER: What about the accept census overall? Worth the money?  They came in under budget about $1.87 billion.

KRAUTHAMMER: Absolutely always. I must say it adds to the particular we ought to have for founders, to think in the 18th century the importance of this, people interested in the science, empirical evidence, they hungered for information. This tells us who we are. It's also an act of fairness.

It's a reaction against the British system where seats in the House of Commons which became empty over time. But the lord retained the seat. They wanted country to adapt the general population and growing change. It's a footnote but wonderful it's in the constitution. The constitution is a restriction on the government action. This is a rare instruction on stuff that the government had to do, an idea of genius as always.

BALDWIN: And 75 percent of the nation mailed back the forms.  That is good.

BARNES: My wife did.

BAIER: I did, too. Is the census worth the money? Let us know what you think on FOXnews.com/specialreport.

Next up, net neutrality. What does it mean and why is it important to you?



ROBERT MCDOWELL, (R) FCC COMMISSIONER: The United States is abandoning the longstanding bipartisan and international consensus to insulate the Internet from the state meddling in favor of preference for top-down control by unelected political appointees, three of whom will decide what constitutes reasonable behavior.

JULIUS GENACHOWSKI, (D) FCC CHAIRMAN: It is essential that the FCC fulfill its historic role as cop on beat to ensure the vitality of our communications networks to empower and protect entrepreneurs and consumers of those networks.


BAIER: The Federal Communications Commission in a three-two vote today voted to move ahead with the net neutrality. Shorthand, it would prohibit phone and cable companies to abuse control over Broadband connections to discriminate against the rival content or services.

Now, in the big picture, supporters say it's intended to preserve open access to Internet. Opponents say it's the camel's nose under the tent of the regulation and a crackdown and big brother on the Internet and stifling the economy. Back with the panel. How did I do?

KRAUTHAMMER: It was great.


BAIER: It's complex.

BARNES: It is.

KRAUTHAMMER: But there is nothing in life that grows and thrives on its own that a liberal won't come along and want to regulate and control. That is happening here.

I have not heard complaints about how free or fair or inaccessibility the internet is. In fact the FCC admits it's trying to anticipate problem in future. Government has a hard enough time trying to regulate what is happening now and they want to regulate what they think will happen in the future.  It's particularly arrogant with the internet which is evolving and changing rapidly as anything in the history of communications. I think that in and of itself is scary.  There is a procedural issue. They tried to do it in 2005 and slapped down in 2008. Now the FCC is now trying to find a different basis of regulation. So instead of an information source it's a telecom entity.  Thus the FCC says it can be under the rule and laws of the late 30s regulating the phone company.  I think this is a hell of a stretch. It has no authority unless it is given grant of authority from Congress. It ought to stay out of this.

BAIER: That is the biggest sticking point. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Mara, has said it's congress's job to get involved.  Not the Obama administration and not the FCC to regulate or to tell companies that they can't play favorites with web traffic essentially. And that is their biggest argument.

LIASSON: Not playing favorites with the web traffic sounds reasonable. In the future that the internet is your phone company and television and the cable company and it will converge.

BAIER: But there is a phone company offering internet service.  The person at home wants to get their phone service through another company.

LIASSON: They should be able to. But if you have an internet provider, it shouldn't pick and choose among Web site.

BAIER: So that's the battle if Congress is doing it or FCC is doing it.

BAIER: There's a third option, and that's the free market, which has been doing fine with the Internet so far. And Congress will intervene.  I know Fred Upton said he will be the chairman in the house congress, energy and Congress committee. He will have hearings right away, because when have we had in human history, regulators stepped in a small way and this is a small way and said we're not going to do any more. We'll back off. No, they always go further.

The phone companies were monopolies. But Comcast is not a monopoly. And chairman of the FCC the clip, when did they become the cop on the beat? When it started in the '30s it was to parcel out the scarce bandwidth. We know there is more bandwidth now by huge amounts. That was their job; it wasn't to be the cop on the beat.  I want to read one thing. James Pedecucasy, economics writer, said "Net neutrality is akin to a computer maker successfully lobbying for price control on shippers like FedEx when they're transporting goods from China." Its price controls over the person who is transmitting this thing over the cables if they lay down.  As Charles said, the Internet has worked well so far without this kind of interference. I would let it continue.

BAIER: FCC commissioner McDowell said the FCC is starting to look more like a regulatory vigilante and not cop on the beat. He voted obviously against this provision.

KRAUTHAMMER: I think the Republican house will have hearings on this and why exactly are we doing this?

The statement from the White House, where the president issued a statement saying that he welcomes the step because it will help ensure the Democratic spirit of the Internet remains intact. When the head of a party that is trying to impose the fairness doctrine that would shut off debate and kill talk radio is talking retaining the spirit, the democratic spirit of the Internet, I would reach -- I would have a little skepticism in that.  And I'd say perhaps when someone shows up at your door and says "I'm from the government and here to help," I'd worry about that.

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