Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may be a rising star in the Democratic Party, but the district she represents could potentially not exist following the 2020 Census since New York is expected to lose as many as two House seats.
According to The City, nearly 47 percent of her district is foreign-born, and more than a quarter are not citizens—both are segments of the population that are often underrepresented in the census due to concerns of taking part in an official government count, and her district has a higher percentage than any other district. This could mean that her district could be divided up in reapportionment, meaning that she might have to face another incumbent to stay in Congress. Frank Luntz says that the state’s Democrats are actually looking to “draw out” her district.
President Trump considered an executive order to restore a question regarding citizenship to the census but ultimately backed down. Still, some say that there will be an impact on the new census, and AOC, who might be fighting for her political future, is trying hard to inform her constituents that they must participate in the census.
As Ocasio-Cortez greeted constituents Wednesday, Census Bureau representatives standing nearby handed out flyers, seeking workers to go door-to-door in the neighborhood for the crucial population count.
As of July 12, the Census Bureau had filled 28% of the 121,240 New York area positions it’s recruiting for, according to a presentation last month by Jeff Behler, director of the state Regional Census Center.
“As you see, we’re a year out from the Census, and we’re already here with organizers, enumerators,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “So step one is to hire people from the community. Hire people from Parkchester, from Jackson Heights, from Pelham, from Throggs Neck that are from these communities, that understand these communities, that are already trusted — so when they knock on people’s door, people don’t feel intimidated or strange about it.”
Regardless of her efforts, New York State is still likely to lose up to two seats in reapportionment because of people leaving the state and slower population growth. AOC is certainly not the only member of Congress who should be concerned, but if her district experiences undercounting because of non-citizens not participating, it’s easy to see how her district could be absorbed by others, and she might have to go through a competitive primary again.
That would be fun to watch.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis