File this under “problems that we really should have seen coming”: conservatives, egged on by the likes of Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), declining to return census forms and possibly shrinking the political power of states like Texas. The Lone Star State’s return rate for census forms, so far, is 27 percent. The national average is 34 percent. And the data are worse for Republican areas:
In Texas, some of the counties with the lowest census return rates are among the state’s most Republican, including Briscoe County in the Panhandle, 8 percent; King County, near Lubbock, 5 percent; Culberson County, near El Paso, 11 percent; and Newton County, in deep East Texas, 18 percent. Most other counties near the bottom of the list are heavily Hispanic counties along the Texas-Mexico border.
The McCain-Palin ticket carried 74.3 percent of the vote in Briscoe, 92.6 percent in King and 65.5 percent in Newton — although Obama-Biden won tiny Culberson County.
UPDATE: Some friendly folks on Twitter have called this a false meme, so I checked the new data at the Census site. Here are the return rates, so far, for the five most Republican districts in Texas.
King County (92.% for McCain) – 14% return rate, down from 48% in 2000.
Roberts County (92.1% for McCain) – 22% return rate, down from 68% in 2000.
Ochiltree County (91.7% for McCain) – 39% return rate, down from 71% in 2000.
Glasscock County (90.1% for McCain) – 30% return rate, down from 49% in 2000.
Oldham County (88.4% for McCain) – 26% return rate, down from 72% in 2000.
Obviously, with so much time left to complete the Census, lots of populous and Democratic areas are way off of their 2000 rates so far — Harris County, for example, is only at 35%, when in 2000 it had a 68% return rate. But these numbers in conservative areas are worth watching.