Prepare for political wrangling and perhaps lawsuits following the release of the first figures from the 2010 Census on Tuesday. Population shifts nationwide meant gains in congressional seats in Republican-leaning states and losses in Democratic-leaning ones.
North Carolina, which grew by 18.5 percent over the last decade, barely missed picking up a seat by 15,000 people. Recount? South Carolina, which grew by 15.3 percent, did pick up a seat.
Those reapportioned seats could have huge impact come 2012. In the 2008 presidential election, five of the eight states that gained at least one seat this year were won by GOP candidate John McCain. President Barack Obama carried eight of the 10 states that lost seats. Given that a state's presidential electoral votes are the number of its House seats plus its two Senate seats, the shift seems to give Republicans an advantage for the next presidential election.
But political change is just one repercussion of the census numbers. More pressing concerns for many states are the financial and social challenges that are hidden beneath the numbers - particularly for states in the South, which has seen the fastest growth of any U.S. region since 2000, at 14.3 percent.
Much of that growth was fueled by immigration and people who need government help and services. A new report from the Southern Education Foundation also released Tuesday sheds a distressing light on that issue.
The report shows that U.S. residents living in extreme poverty - that is, living on $7 to $10 a day or less - became the fastest-growing income group in America last year. One of every 16 Americans - more than 18.8 million people - are now in that category.
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