Census count key to maintaining political influence

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The 3rd District is safe for now, but Adrian Smith and challengers for his congressional seat will still put in plenty of miles in search of votes.

The latest U.S. Census figures show the sprawling district has lost about 18,500 people since 2000, while Douglas and Sarpy Counties in the 2nd District have gained about 77,500 residents.

That means the 3rd District will have to grow just that much more to equalize population.

Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy, Hall, Buffalo, Adams, Cass, Lincoln, Platte and Washington counties were the 10 Nebraska counties showing the most growth in data released March 23.

Frontier was among the 10 counties showing the greatest percentage decline, with an 18.8 percent decline.

More than half of the state's 93 counties lost 10 percent or more of their population in the past 10 years, according to University of Nebraska Omaha research associated David Drozd, most of them in the 3rd District.

Fifty-two counties reported more births than deaths between 2000 and 2009, but most counties saw more people move away than move in during that time.

Only eight counties recorded a net gain from more people moving to the area than those that left, and those eight counties were either in eastern Nebraska or along Interstate 80

The state population was estimated at nearly 1.8 million last July, up from 1.7 million people in 2000.

What difference does it make?

Keeping the three congressional districts for Nebraska is the most obvious importance of census counts, but so is making sure that the state's least-populated areas, such as Western Nebraska and areas not along the Interstate, have the political influence they deserve.

That makes it even more important that we all fill out our Census forms accurately and return them as soon as possible.

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