What all this means for politics is the subject of some dispute. Right-wing analysts herald the ballooning population of the Republican-leaning states in the South and West and the relative stagnation of the Democratic bastions in the Midwest and north-east as proof of the superiority of Republican policies. What is more, they crow, faster growth is bringing more seats in the House of Representatives to Republican states, which could help to cement their current majority. Conservative Texas, for example, is gaining four seats in the reapportionment set in train by last year’s census; liberal New York is losing two.
But Democrats counter that the growth the Republicans are celebrating comes from natural Democratic constituencies. Minorities, they point out, tend to vote Democratic, whereas the dwindling white, rural population is largely Republican. By this logic, Democratic infiltrators are gradually undermining Republicans’ control over their territory from within. Barack Obama, after all, carried previously Republican-leaning western and southern states such as Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia on his way to the White House in 2008. If he can maintain his share of the vote among blacks and Latinos, he will be hard to beat in 2012.