Detailed Census numbers for Georgia are expected this week. And it’s information that the state’s political leadership will be keenly focused-on.
The numbers set the table for the process of redrawing districts in the state. Georgia’s population grew by 18 percent over the last decade to more than 9.6 million residents. But exactly where those people live will determine power and money for years to come.
University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bulloch says the early estimates do not bode well for areas south of Macon. He says that region of Georgia could lose two to three state Senate seats, and perhaps six to eight House seats.
“If you’re from rural south Georgia, you’re probably concerned about whether or not you can hold on to a district in which to run, or whether you might be combined with a neighbor and have to face that individual head-to-head.”
The effects of the Census numbers to come can also extend to statewide issues. With north Georgia likely to gain representation as south Georgia loses, some of the state's farmers could have less of a voice on those issues important to them--like interbasin water transfer.
“If you are moving water, which would otherwise flow down to help the farmers in south Georgia, they’re not going to be happy with that, but they won’t have as much influence as they’ve had in the past. They’ve been losing influence for the last half century.”
Bulloch says the Census' detailed population numbers also determine how much federal money goes where for programs across the state.