PubPol 475

PubPol 475: Topics: The Politics of the Census and Redistricting

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Winter 2021
Winter 2021
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Instructors: Ren Farley and Lisa Neidert

Class meets 01/09/2021 - 03/05/2021

Census 2020 was the most politicized and controversial enumeration in the nation’s history. The Trump administration attempted, unsuccessfully, to add a question about citizenship and then sought to exclude most non-citizens from the count that will be used to reapportion Congress and the Electoral College.  Eventually, the 2020 census counts will be used for reapportioning Congress, redistricting state legislatures and every other elected body in the entire nation.  That process will likely be the most controversial and litigated in recent history.  Before Census 2010 counts were released, the Republican Party dedicated great – and legal – efforts to elect state legislators who would strategically use census data to draw Congressional and state legislative districts that would reliably elect Republicans. In many states this endeavor was successful prompting Democrats to dedicate themselves to the important issue of reapportionment and redistricting.  Here in Michigan, for instance, voters approved a citizen-led procedure for drawing Congressional and legislative districts.

This course will cover census history, controversies, quality indicators and relate them to the lawsuits and Congressional battles that will likely be raging in the early months of 2021. We will also cover how census data are used for policy issues. The course will be a mixture of lectures and labs. The labs will provide hands-on experience with some aspect of a previous lecture, without any expectation of statistical or programming expertise. The labs will introduce students to easily accessible data from the Census Bureau. Students will learn how to access and draw conclusions from these data. Other labs will be based on apportionment and redistricting. This is not a statistics course and there will be no assignments requiring the statistical analysis of data. However, we hope that students will be motivated by this course to acquire additional skills – mapping, programming, and statistics – which will be useful in your future careers.  In addition, students will be asked to prepare a policy brief based on what you have learned in the course. For more information, please contact one or both instructors.