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Voters See GOP As Winner of New Census Findings

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

While it’s a hot topic in Washington. D.C., only 33% of voters are Very Closely following recent news stories about the Census and congressional redistricting. That puts it way below the level of interest in the top stories of 2010.

Forty-one percent (41%) think Republicans benefited most from the congressional redistricting required by the new Census results. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 14% think Democrats came out on top. Thirty percent (30%) say both parties benefited equally, but 15% more are not sure.

Among those who are following news reports about the Census Very Closely, however, 56% say Republicans benefited most.

Because of population changes found by the new Census, eight states will gain seats in Congress, while 10 states will lose seats. Most of the states gaining seats tend to be so-called Red States that generally vote Republican at the presidential level. That includes the biggest winner of all—Texas—which picks up four more seats in the House of Representatives. States generally seen as friendlier to Democrats tended to lose seats in Congress.

Some analysts think that the short-term GOP gains may be even more significant because of GOP election gains last month on the gubernatorial and statehouse level where redistricting boundaries are generally decided. One recent analysis noted that “Republicans now control the entire legislature in 25 states, 11 more than they had going in to the 2010 elections. For their part, Democrats control both houses of 16 legislatures, with eight states facing divided control of the legislature. The last time Republicans controlled this many legislatures was after the 1952 election, when they had 26.”

Twenty-two percent (22%) of voters think their state will have more seats in Congress after the congressional redistricting triggered by the new Census. Twenty-four percent (24%) believe their state will have fewer seats in Congress because of the new Census.

Thirty-four percent (34%) think the number of congressional seats their state has will remain about the same. But one-in-five voters (20%) aren’t sure what impact the Census will have on their state’s representation in the U.S. Congress. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

While the number of people surveyed in individual states is too small to allow a state-by-state breakdown, a review of the data found that a majority of those in states that gained representatives knew that they had gained representatives. A majority in those states that lost a representative also knew correctly what was happening to their delegation. Additionally, in 16 of the 18 individual states, a majority got the answer correct. In one state, a plurality got it right and in the other 50% were unsure.

“Overall, given the small sample sizes, the numbers suggest a fair level of awareness about the changes in representation,” said Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports. “However, the relative lack of interest in the story suggests that the changes are not the topic of many dinner time conversations.”

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted December 27-28, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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