Results of census begin to take effect

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Political observers are noting that more liberal states are losing seats in Congress to more conservative ones. Nebraska, while it won't lose a seat -- this time -- could easily gain a more liberal district.

Not surprisingly, it's the 2nd District which gave President Obama an electorial vote in the 2008 election.

The situation is related to reapportionment connected to the U.S. Census, which found 1.8 million Nebraskans and the need to expand the state's huge 3rd District.

The easiest way to do that would be move the boundary of northern part of Sarpy County, but that would take a lot of Republican voters with it, something that would make one of the reddest districts in the nation that much more conservative, and conceding the 2nd District to the Democrats.

Sen. George Norris saw to it that the Legislature is officially nonpartisan, but the Republican lawmakers aren't likely to give up all claims to the 2nd District without a fight.

State Sen. Scott Lauterbaugh of Omaha said he hopes to avoid a nasty fight, and thinks term limits might take away the incentive to benefit incumbents.

"Term limits have driven home the point that these seats belong to the public," said Lauterbaugh, who was Douglas County's election commissioner during the last redistricting.

The Unicameral will have plenty of other things to deal with next year, most importantly the expected budget shortfall, but the results of the census and resulting redistricting has long-term consequences.

Most of us don't realize Nebraska once had six congressional districts, and lost House seats in 1933, 1943 and 1963.

Census numbers released Tuesday showed states like New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Louisiana losing seats, however, while Texas, Washington, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Florida gained.

Judging from the trends, conservative Nebraskans should be comfortable in a nation which is trending their way.

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