May 23, 2022 - Politics

Illinois population becomes political

Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Map: Thomas Oide/Axios

Instead of losing numbers in the 2020 census, Illinois actually grew in population.

Why it matters: The population numbers, recently updated by the U.S. Census Bureau, could have a significant impact on the upcoming election season.

Context: GOP candidates were using early census numbers as proof that the state and city were both failing under Democratic leadership.

  • Now, Democrats are seizing the upper hand.

What they are saying: "Every single Republican running for governor has built a campaign on fraudulent claims badmouthing Illinois," Gov. J.B. Pritzker's campaign spokesperson, Natalie Edelstein, said in a press release.

  • The new data shows "the reality," Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (8th) told Illinois Playbook. "Anybody who perhaps is trying to sell the opposite will have to reckon with the facts now."

The intrigue: Early census numbers were the basis for redrawing both the Illinois congressional and Chicago ward maps.

  • One of the major points in the recent bitter ward map fight was that Chicago's Black population decreased.
  • Several Black leaders questioned those numbers, and the Black Caucus-endorsed map ultimately won out.

Yes, but: Illinois didn't gain enough to change the redrawn congressional maps and will still lose one congressional seat.

  • "There is no reason for Democrats to take a victory lap," GOP 8th district congressional candidate Chris Dargis said in a statement. "The new numbers also do not absolve the state’s poor fiscal health and terrible business policies."
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