Data Gloomy For Democrats

December 26, 2003
Copyright © 2003 THE PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

. .. Data Gloomy For Democrats

Data released this week suggested that Democrats are unlikely to take back control of either House of the Congress next year and President Bush would be reelected if the election were held now.

An analysis by the daily political report of Congressional Quarterly, a news service, rated only four of the 435 voting House of Representatives seats as ‘up for grabs’ next year.  Democrats would need to pick up 12 House seats to take back the majority that they last held in 1994. 

There was no clear favorite party for winning five Senate seats but Republicans were projected to emerge from the elections with at least 51 seats in the 100 member Senate.  They now have 51 seats to 48 Democratic and one Independent from Vermont.  (If President Bush wins reelection, Republicans could control the Senate with only 50 seats since Vice President Cheney would be able to break any tie votes in their favor.)  

The analysis projected that Democrats would lose nine of the 205 House of Representatives seats that they now hold and Republicans would gain five over the 228 that they now have.  Two hundred-eighteen seats are needed for a majority in the House.

Twenty-five House seats were rated as having "highly competitive" races but leaning in one direction or the other.  Of these 16 were rated as leaning Republican and nine as leaning Democratic.

Three hundred-seventy two seats were considered to be safe, including 196 Republican seats, 175 Democratic, and the one seat held by Vermont's independent.    Democrats or Republicans were judged to be favored in 33 House contests, 21 Republican and 12 Democratic.

Of the 34 Senate contests, 14 are considered safe to remain in the control of one party or the other -- seven each for the Democrats and the Republicans.  Ten more are considered "almost safe" to remain under the control of the party that now holds the seats -- six Democratic and four Republican.  Of the five seats leaning in one direction or the other, however, four are considered to be leaning Republican. 

A Washington Post-ABC News poll this week found 31 percent of Democrats favoring former Vermont Governor Howard Dean for their party’s presidential nomination, an increase from 20 percent the week before and from 15 percent two months ago.  Dean was the only Democrat to register double-digit support. 

President Bush, however, led Dean 55% to 37%.  Bush’s lead over Dean was greater than when the match-up was between Bush and an unnamed Democrat. Forty-one percent of voters polled said that they would vote for an unnamed Democrat and 50% said that they would vote for Bush.  The results explained why some Democrats are concerned about Dean’s ability to win and are looking for an alternative candidate.

The poll reported other encouraging numbers for Bush.  His overall approval rating was counted at 59 percent, the highest since August. 

Almost four times as many people said that they expected their financial situation to improve over the next year as said they expected it to worsen. Forty-two percent also rated the economy as "excellent" or "good" compared with 33% two months ago.  Fifty-seven percent rated the economy as "not so good" or "poor" but that was the lowest percentage since just before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

U.S. Census Estimates Puerto Rico’s Population at 3.9 Million Puerto Rico was the residence of an estimated 3,878,532 people as of July 1st, the U.S. Bureau of the Census report last week.

The total was an estimated 19,009 more than for the year before. The .5% increase was half the national rate of growth, the U.S. Commerce Department agency reported.  The U.S.’s national population was estimated at 290.8 million.

The estimate projected that Puerto Rico’s population had grown 69,929 or 1.8% since the April1, 2000 ten-year Census count.    

Census information from July projected that Puerto Rico’s population would hit four million by 2010 and rise to a peak of 4,114,000 by 2030.  The islands’ population was then projected to shrink to 4,009,000 by 2040 and to 3,817,000 in 2050 -- essentially what it was in 2000. 

The July report said that the territory’s population growth rate has been steadily shrinking since the 1970s.  It was 1.6% that decade, one percent in the 1980s, and .8% in the 1990s.  This decade's growth rate is expected to average the current .5%. 

The grow no growth in Puerto Rico’s population is projected between 2020 and 2030. The Census also estimated that Puerto Rico’s population will be reduced by .3% between 2030 and 2040 and by .5% between 2040 and 2050.

One factor in Puerto Rico’s projected growth and decrease rates -- as in the nation’s -- was the relative aging of the population.  The number of people four years old and younger in Puerto Rico in 2000 was more than twice the number 80 years old and over.   In 2025, the number 80 years of age and older is expected to be almost as great as the number four years old and younger. 

The other major factor in Puerto Rico’s population rate was said to be migration to the States.  The 2000 Census counted 3.4 million people of Puerto Rican origin in the States, an increase of 24.9 percent from the 2.7 million in 1990 that was clearly due to migration in addition to births. 

The population of Puerto Rican origin in Florida more than doubled during the decade, increasing 241,354 to 482,027.  Huge percentage increases were also registered in other States as well.  The next largest increases in terms of numbers were in the following States:

    Pennsylvania — an increase of 84,885 to 228,557

    New Jersey — an increase of 62,609 to 366,788

    Connecticut — an increase of 54,300 to 194,443

    Massachusetts — an increase of 53,192 to 199,207

    Texas — an increase of 23,710 to 69,504

    Ohio — an increase of 20,358 to 66,269

    Georgia — an increase of 19,159 to 35,532

    Virginia — an increase of 17,492 to 41,131

    North Carolina — an increase of 17,197 to 31,117

The States with the largest populations of Puerto Rican origin were New York, Florida, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.  The cities were New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. 

The huge growth in the population of Puerto Rican origin in the States was not as great as the growth rate among Hispanics as a whole, however.  The overall Hispanic growth rate was counted at 57.9% (vs. the Puerto Rican growth rate of 24.9%).  This decreased the Puerto Rican percentage of the Hispanic population of the States from 12.2% in 1990 to 9.6% in 2000. 

The States had 35.3 million people of Hispanic origin in 2000 compared with 22.4 million in 1990.

Puerto Rican population growth rates did outpace Hispanic growth rates in 14 States in the 1990s.  But the only one of these where the Puerto Rican population is really sizable was Florida.   

Hispanics were counted as 27% of New York City’s population.  Of them, 36.5% were Puerto Rican in origin, a decrease from the past because of foreign Hispanic immigration. 

The "Washington Update" appears weekly.

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