Egged on by anti-Big Government Republicans like Reps. Michele Bachmann (MN) and Ron Paul (TX), some conservative voters are reportedly refusing to participate in this year's Census — a serious mistake, argues Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC). Not only are the anti-Census arguments bunk, he says, if the "count me out" movement takes off, we might actually see fewer Republicans in Congress, since the Census is used to allocate congressional districts. Are conservatives killing themselves politically?
Census boycotts are "political suicide": McHenry's right to "scold" anti-Census conservatives, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. Not only could the Census opt-out initiative "inadvertently" damage Republicans, it hardly looks good when supposedly "strict-constructionist" conservatives urge a boycott of one of the few exercises actually mandated in the Constitution.
"Are conservatives blowing the Census?"
The boycott make sense — up to a point: The Founding Fathers enshrined the Census to make government more efficient, says Bill Egnor in Firedoglake, so undermining that goal "is no big deal for conservatives" who tend to believe the federal government can't be efficient, period. That said, failing to answer the Census is against the law. Can we start talking about "illegal conservatives" now?
"Time for a new meme — Illegal conservatives"
The Census boycott is, unfortunately, mythical: The idea that Bachmann-gazing conservatives are skipping the Census is "a fun story," says Nate Silver in FiveThirtyEight. But it's not backed up by the numbers. There may be some local Census sitting-out in areas like Ron Paul's Texas or "Bachmannistan," but nationwide, red state participation is slightly above-average so far.
"No evidence that red states are lagging on Census"