The Rural Blog: Rural population loss means less political power

April 1, 2011 | General RCAP News

Original posting of this article on March 30, 2011

The 2010 census will cause a shift in the political landscape, giving less weight to rural areas because they lost population. Rural legislative districts will become less numerous, and individual districts will cover more land area. State Sen. Jean Leising told Gary Truitt of Hoosier Ag Today that her southeastern Indiana district, which is already large, will have to be increased even more. Leising worries that, with fewer and larger rural districts, the rural voice and rural political power will be diminished."

Charles Johnson of the Billings Gazette in Montana reports that most of the state’s "urban counties continued to grow from 2000 to 2010, while many of its rural counties kept losing people." Craig Wilson, a political science professor from Montana State University-Billings told Johnson, "The real significance of these movements is you have a gradual shift of political power from east to west and from rural to urban."

Indiana and Montana are not be the only states facing such power shifts. The U.S. Census Bureau reports, "Many Appalachian counties in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia; many Great Plains counties in the Dakotas, Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas; and a group of counties in and around the Mississippi Delta saw population declines. In addition, many counties along the Great Lakes and on the northern U.S. border either lost population or grew below 10 percent."