As Dante Atkins noted earlier today, right-wing conspiracy theorists might be undermining their own cause. By railing against the government, and even including the Census Bureau in their web of evil government agencies, they have apparently stunted the rate of response for the decennial census among likeminded citizens.
Of course, it's possible that this is merely a coincidence that will work itself out in the coming months. If not, however, there is something pretty delicious about the census return rates emanating from the Lone Star State.
How sparse are the return rates for deep red counties?
Consider that urban (and mainly left-of-center) Houston has had a return rate thus far of about 21%. While this is far below the national average (African-American and Latino respondents have been historically tougher to track down for the Census), it is well ahead of some of the very white, very Republican small counties which dot the Texas landscape.
Just look at the return rates for some of the GOP-saturated counties:
- Newton County (East Texas): 65% for McCain, 18% Return Rate
- Briscoe County (Panhandle): 74% for McCain, 8% Return Rate
- King County (near Lubbock): 92% for McCain, 5% Return Rate
Of course, the reluctance of Texas Republicans to complete the Census might be owed to their representation in Congress, which has been quite vocal on the subject:
Earlier this month, Texas Rep. Ron Paul voted against a congressional resolution asking Americans to participate in the census.
“The invasive nature of the current census raises serious questions about how and why government will use the collected information,” the Lake Jackson Republican recently said. “It also demonstrates how the federal bureaucracy consistently encourages citizens to think of themselves in terms of groups, rather than as individual Americans. ”
Houston-area GOP lawmakers say anti-census feelings run deep among their constituents.
“People are concerned about the apparent intrusive nature of the census,” said Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble. “People are very concerned that the government is going too far.”
The irony, of course, is that the lunatic rants of GOP Congressman like Poe and Paul, should they prove successful, will have one near-certain consequence: fewer Republican districts. Meaning, of course, fewer Republican Congressmen.