THE POLITICS OF DEMOGRAPHY
With all the news coverage given the New Hampshire primary and Iowa caucus, those who live in places other than Des Moines and Nashua are suddenly becoming aware that there will be a presidential election this fall.
Given President Bush's high approval ratings, the challenge among Republicans these days is to avoid a sense of complacency -- to make supporters understand that the election could in fact be very competitive.
Karl Rove, the president's political adviser, and Gerald Parsky, Bush's point man in California, have been busy reminding anyone who'll listen that the nation has not fundamentally changed politically since the 2000 barn-burner of an election — that it is still, in many ways, a 50-50 country.
To help illustrate that point, here are some demographic data distributed by the Census Bureau today as Black History Week approaches. Given the overwhelming propensity of blacks to vote Democratic, perhaps these figures will provide some motivation to Republicans who, as Rove fears, may be overconfident that the South is safely theirs and that Florida's all-important electoral votes will again swing to Bush.
-- BETWEEN APRIL 1, 2000, and July 1, 2002, the black population of Florida grew by 216,000. The second largest numerical gain was in Georgia. The Census Bureau notes that the concentration of blacks in Southern states is on the rise; over the last seven years, for every black resident who has moved from the South to the North, two blacks have moved from North to South.
-- REMEMBER BROWARD County, Fla., from those nerve-wracking, chad-counting days of the Florida election count? The county was critical, the home of hand recounts and allegations of voting irregularities that might have cost Al Gore hundreds of votes. Here's something else to know about Broward County: Over the last two years, more blacks have been added to its population (50,100) than any other county in America.