Monday, December 21, 2020






          Donald Trump detests California. He showed several times during his one-term presidency that he was out to do this state as much harm as possible.


          There was his trying to withhold federal grants to police departments over immigration policy. There was his brief effort to keep federal aid from victims of the massive Creek Fire, which hit parts of Fresno, Mariposa and Madera counties early last fall. That one ended when Trump, campaigning frantically as the November election neared, learned those portions of California were backing him by large margins. There was his long effort to withdraw California’s unique authority to regulate its own air quality, enshrined in federal law. And more.


          It was all because this state provided the entire popular vote margin by which Hillary Clinton defeated Trump in 2016. California votes also made up most of the lame-duck president’s popular vote defeat this year.


          During the fall, he and his appointees arranged a new way to inflict harm on California, one whose effects figure to last at least 10 years.


          This comes via the U.S. Census, the supposedly full head count of residents of this country taken as every decade begins. Always in a year ending in zero.


          The count determines how many members each state gets in the House of Representatives, where California has held 53 seats for the last 10 years, up one from the previous decade. It also decides how much cash each state and its cities, counties, schools and roads get when federal grant money goes out.


          By ending the count in mid-October rather than at the end of that month, as the Census Bureau had said earlier would be necessary for a complete count because of coronavirus-caused delays in getting started last spring, Trump assured that the hardest to find individuals would be less likely to be tallied. These include many undocumented immigrants who try to hide from all officials.


          The same deadline shift figures to cut the count in states like Texas, Georgia and North Carolina, which also house large numbers of illegal immigrants. But California has long been home to almost one-third of the undocumented believed to be in this country.


          It wasn’t just the deadline that bit. The Census Bureau, part of the U.S. Commerce Department headed under Trump by billionaire businessman Wilbur Ross, also made other moves to reduce the count. “Over the summer, they fired almost all the temporary workers,” said one of those who survived into the fall. There were other tactics, too. When Census takers were stopped by building security guards, they were reportedly instructed just to leave, despite their legal right to go in and knock on doors.


          Another questionable new rule for Census takers mandated that when they banged on a door and no one answered, they were to figure that residence was vacant.


          Add these procedural losses to the state’s losing as many as 600,000 undocumented workers who returned to their home countries when the COVID-19 pandemic caused their jobs to evaporate. In all, California’s count will probably end up at least 2 million below what was expected last winter, before it began.


          This could mean the loss of a couple more House seats atop the one or two the state already figured to lose because its population has been almost stagnant for the last few years, while some other places grew.


          So don’t be surprised if California finds itself down to 49 or 50 representatives in the House and just 51 or 52 electoral college votes in the next two presidential elections. Plus a lot less cash from federal grants.


          The final figures likely won’t be reported to Trump because of unexpected glitches. But once new President Joe Biden gets them, there will be very little he can do to make them more accurate. New York will likely be another loser of congressional seats and money, along with states like Illinois and Massachusetts. Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky and Nevada might pick up extra cash and representation.


          But the biggest loser when the final count is reported will almost certainly be California. Just as Trump wanted.

    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

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