The census recently released its 2014 population estimates, which reveal some interesting patterns:
1. During the decade of the 2000s, 38.4% of US population growth occurred in just 3 states; Texas, California and Florida. In the past year that number rose to 47.2%, in the same three states. Florida passed New York to become the third most populous state. These three states are America’s future, and in a few years I’ll be heading out to the worst governed of the three. Speaking of bad governance, Illinois (which contains dynamic Chicago) lost population, while Michigan (home of Detroit) gained population. Ouch!
2. So the Sunbelt is alive and well? Not quite. All of the south central states other than Texas did poorly, with Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Oklahoma all growing at less than the national average, and far less than Texas. New Mexico actually lost population.
3. So Texas must be booming due to the fracking boom? Nope. Texas’s population growth began slowing about 8 years ago, just as fracking got underway.
4. But wait; didn’t North Dakota have the fastest population growth of any state? Yes, but North Dakota only added about 15,600 people, versus 7,600 in South Dakota. So fracking probably added no more than 10,000 people. Even if you assume that Texas’s fracking industry is twice as large, it would have added only 20,000 to Texas’s population. (Probably less, as it discourages non-fracking business.) But Texas added more than 450,000 people. Fracking is a statistical error, nothing more. That’s why oil producing Oklahoma and Louisiana grew more slowly than the national average, despite the oil boom. (The data was from July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2014.)
5. Populations movements don’t affect politics, as the three big gainers are red, blue, and purple. But even if they were all red or all blue, it wouldn’t matter. If liberals move to a conservative state or vice versa, it changes the nature of that state. During my lifetime many strongly Democratic states have become very Republican, and vice versa. It will happen again. In the 20th century each party will win about 1/2 of the elections, just as in the 20th century. It’s all about the ideas, the horserace doesn’t matter. Which ideas will each party accept?
BTW, I saw this in The Economist:
Less than a decade ago UKIP was a Eurosceptic pressure group run by disenchanted Thatcherites, such as Mr Farage, and EU-obsessed academics. Now it is hoovering up support from disgruntled elderly and blue-collar voters. Yet the fact that it is also hoovering up their prejudices reflects how populist, not serious, the party is.
. . . Some Kippers claim that, in its blundering first stabs at policymaking, the party is simply listening to its new members too well. Yet there is no sense that, when it matures, it will reassert liberal principles—as Douglas Carswell, the party’s first elected MP, clearly wants. The truth is Mr Farage is more opportunist (he would say pragmatic) than liberal. He probably still doesn’t much care what UKIP’s economic policy is, so long as it hastens Britain’s departure from the EU. The result is that libertarian UKIP is likely to end up much like its nativist, authoritarian European cousins.
(Recall that outside the US “liberal” means pro-free market.) Now reread the first paragraph. Does this remind you of the evolution of a certain political party in the US in recent decades?
Update: Lars Christensen will begin doing Youtube videos.