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Inside Politics

Census Shows U.S. More Urban, Less Rural Than Ever; Nine House Dems Test Pelosi, Demand Vote on Infrastructure; Kentucky Senators Take Vastly Different Approach as COVID Cases Rise. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired August 13, 2021 - 12:30   ET


AMY WALTER, PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, COOK POLITICAL REPORT: That's true. But it Chicago and New York, the population stayed stable. What that means is those cities which of course, are democratic, much more democratic can keep their area of influence.

You can't chop that district up or force it to go deeper into the suburbs, which could dilute its power, and also its partisanship. A place like Detroit, though, which has been losing a great deal of population, they're going to have to make up for it by going deeper into the suburbs, that's going to dilute the power of Detroit itself.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Right, redrawing those lines gets really complicated.

WALTER: That's right.

KING: So here's a demographic issue here. Look at this, the white population is shrinking, not only as a percentage of America, this is the first sentence, it's all the way back 1790 were the absolute number of white people is lower from census to census.

So the white population, the percentage of population 75.6 four census ago, 1990, 57.8 now, because of this, you see this explosion of the Latino population. The African American population is a percentage is up a little bit, relatively, as a number, I mean, absolute numbers up a little bit as a percentage of the population about static but the Asian population grow.

WALTER: That's the number really to be paying attention to, especially in places like Texas. We talk so much about the Latino vote in Texas. But if you have been to Houston recently, been in and around Dallas, you know that so much of that growth, also Atlanta coming from Asian American voters, that number will probably continue to go up. It does influence and not just when we talk about districts that are not majority white, they're majority voters of color, it doesn't mean it's just going to be Latino, African American, it means it's going to be much more mixed.

KING: Right. And so the population growth Latinos, African Americans, Asians constituencies, look at your last set of exit polls, look at the last election, they tend to be more Democratic, sometimes in lopsided ways. All of that factors in, all 435 of these will be redrawn. So it matters everywhere. But it matters, you could argue more in the states that are losing, in the states that are gaining. North Carolina gains one, Florida gains one, Texas gains two. And you see out there as we go through Colorado and Montana and out into Oregon.

Let's look at Texas. So here's what happened. Republicans control the process. Republicans get to redraw the map. However, the population growth is Hispanics, Asians, and black Americans, smaller growth among white.

WALTER: That's right.

KING: How does it impact, when we come back to this and we look at the state of Texas, we're going to look at all these states as we go through redistricting. This one is going to matter, because Republicans control the process. But when they look at these numbers, how do you draw your districts when the population growth is actually in places that tend to vote Democrat?

WALTER: And John, I'm glad you brought up the point about who controls the redistricting process? So Republicans still do have a lot of control here and how these lines get drawn in Texas, in Florida, in North Carolina, that's very important. But because of the growth, especially Latino growth, it's going to be very difficult if Republicans want to try and say argue that there shouldn't be another Latino majority district, it's going to be hard for that to pass muster, especially legally.

And we know, you said it's going to be really tough battle. It's not just legislative battles, but these battles are going to be fought in the courts as well. And so Democrats now have a better case to make to say, hey, look at the growth in this state. Why are you diluting the influence that these voters of color have?

KING: So let's nail down on that, because again, we're going to see this everywhere, as you shrink some states lose seats some states, gain seats, but in the case of Texas, they get to. Right now it's 23 Republicans and 13 Democrats. Even before these two, Republicans control the process, so they think we can gain. We get to redraw the lines. What did we learn last 10 years? Let's fix it. Now you get two more, but it gets complicated. Many Republicans thought they would -- they could rewrite it in a way that gets them to 26 or 27, now maybe not maybe not.

WALTER: Now maybe not, in part because the rural areas have also shrunk a lot faster. We knew this. But I think what it means for the line drawing is that those rural areas, they can't gain population without gaining it from where the fast growing parts of the state, which are going to continue to grow, especially in a place like Texas, which could make a district that today looks pretty safe for Republicans 10 years from now, that district may look very different.

KING: Right, the short term and the long term.

WALTER: Exactly.

KING: We'll going to continue this conversation.

WALTER: Exactly, and that's where it continue, especially in Texas.

KING: Especially in Texas. We'll continue. Amy, we're grateful for coming in today.

WALTER: Right, thanks John.

KING: Up next for us more on this fascinating census and the political impact of the census including Donald Trump's hope, how much -- how will these numbers affect his hope of a big comeback in 2024?



KING: More now on the fascinating new census data and its political impact. If you need numbers to understand Donald Trump and his politics of white grievance, well, here they are. And if you needed numbers to understand why Republicans from coast to coast are trying to make it harder to vote especially in urban areas, well take a trip to There they are with me in studio to share their reporting and their insights, Politico's Laura Barron-Lopez, CNN's Manu Raju, Tia Mitchell of the Atlanta Journal and Jackie Alemany of The Washington Post.

I just want to start by asking, put up on the screen here. Why this matters? Small population shifts, small in some cases, not so small demographic shifts. Why do they matter? Look at Joe Biden's path to the White House in 2020. He wins Arizona by 10,457 votes just barely.

He wins Georgia by 12,670 votes just barely. He wins Wisconsin by 20,565 votes, 37 electoral votes there, right? That's 43,000 in change the number of votes, 37 electoral. Take those away from Joe Biden and it's 269, 269 and the election goes to the House. But the Sun Belt states are growing. It's growing in Phoenix in the suburbs. It's growing in the Atlanta suburbs. Joe Biden is president because of what the census report documents.


LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Yeah, I mean, there are things in this report that Democrats can be happy about, you know, heading into this, everyone is expecting that Republicans and they still do have the advantage in redistricting in their ability to gerrymander certain states, which could very well hand them the House majority. But the country is more diverse now. And Democrats got a lot better numbers in states like New York and other states that they weren't necessarily expecting to.

KING: So let's look at that diversity, U.S. population by race. And you see the Hispanic or Latino population going up, the black population is a percentage as the raw numbers going up as a percentage of population staying. The Asian population, Amy Walter just talked about. So here's the

challenge for Republicans, if you're Trump, and you run on the politics of white grievance, you try to ramp it up. That's why you talk about the border, your community is changing. If you're Republicans, and you want to have a 10 or 20 year plan, you better compete with those voters who will win?

JACQUELINE ALEMANY, CONGRESSSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yeah, that's especially going to test Republicans in a place like Texas, where we've seen the Latino population really, explosively grow. But I think the most salient point I've heard today is that one senior Democratic aide told me that they viewed the census as a calling card for getting voting rights done. That is what Republicans are doing on. There are these opposing forces taking place right now.

You see, in places like Arizona, Georgia, exactly where this demographic growth is happening, these fights -- these are ground zero, and Democrats are going to be more emboldened by these numbers that they're seeing, I think, to push at a federal level for something like For The People Act to get done to prevent partisan gerrymandering.

KING: Right. And again, if you don't understand sometimes, why are Republicans trying to make it harder to have more early voting, more drop boxes in urban areas like Houston or like Atlanta, this is why, right? They understand these numbers, too. They understand the growth of the population. They can look at how people voted in 2020. And they can say, OK, if this trend continues, we are screwed. So let's make it harder to vote.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION: Right, and that's the thing right now, Republicans seem to be concerned with making sure they control it on the bureaucratic side, the laws and the way elections are run.

But long term, Republicans are going to have to figure out how to compete in cities, cities around Atlanta, cities across the nation are what's growing in those rural areas that are the ruby red, you know, the base of the Republican Party, the population is dwindling. And so that's just to your point, not a long term strategy.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it's a long term concern for Republicans, but short term might not really hurt them a ton in the 2022 midterms, particularly it's going to be battled in states in which the districts in which Democrats are on the defensive, which our white working class voters in which the Republicans clearly have done better with.

But Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican Leader clearly recognizes the concerns about the lack of diversity within their conference. Particularly, he's been trying to recruit more diverse candidates, more minorities, more women recognizing this demographic shift. It may not hurt them in 2022, but 2024, 2026, 2028 beyond that could be a problem.

ALEMANY: I think we should also point out that hasn't worked for Republicans so far. Trump won the presidency, lost presidency in between that last House and the Senate.

KING: Right. It's pretty complicated as always plays out but most politicians are given short term, long term, pick the short term just DNA.

Up next for us, the Biden agenda in the balance, House moderates have a new demand of Speaker Pelosi.



KING: A new challenge today for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the sweeping Biden agenda. And it comes in writing, 9 moderate House Democrats now threatening to withhold their support for the Democrat's $3.5 trillion spending plan. They demand to vote first and ASAP on that bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the Senate, Tuesday.

Panel is back with us. That is not the plan. The plan is to do the reconciliation bill in the infrastructure bill together, will the Moderates essentially -- they have the votes, their margin is so narrow, will they force the speaker?

RAJU: You know, they have not done this so far. This is the first time they put it in writing to threaten to withhold their votes and the threat is serious. It's something that the leadership has to take seriously because come August 23, the week they get back, the Speaker wants to pass the budget resolution, that budget resolution is essential to enacting the Biden agenda because both chambers of Congress have to adopt that before they can move on the larger $3.5 trillion plan.

Now, if they -- these Democrats withhold their votes, they could tank the budget resolution because she can only afford three defections. So they want to vote immediately on infrastructure plan. Pelosi with most of her caucus believes that the infrastructure plan should wait because they want to pressure the Senate to instead pass the larger plan first. So the question is how does she get the two sides together? Perhaps you can find a way but it's something you have to balance here.

KING: She's not known to blink. But as I say, this has not been done in Washington in my lifetime. And as for all her skill, she hasn't done something this big either.


MITCHELL: Yeah, and I think she also realizes, you know, there are members from swing districts Carolyn Bourdeaux and Georgia and they're, you know, thinking about 2022. And they want to kind of show their constituents back home, we're willing to stand up, we're willing to buck the party line, we're willing to have an independent streak.

So I think Nancy Pelosi wants to work with them to summit aspects because she wants them to win reelection as well. It's just where is that compromise? Where is that line where everyone feels happy, and they can still proceed, because even these Democrats want to pass the reconciliation $3.5 trillion package is just how they do it.

KING: How they get there. And again, this reminds you the president needs help from his friends right now. Nancy Pelosi right now, the Speaker of the House, but also Chuck Schumer, the president complimented him and called him the magician, for getting, first the bipartisan infrastructure plan, then the framework.

We need to make clear, it's only a framework 3.5 trillion spending, but we got a lot of writing to do to fill it in. But Chuck Schumer gets through the Senate. The president says he's a magician. Chuck Schumer says not yet, Mr. President, only one year of the rabbit is out of the hat, that to the New York Times. Chuck Schumer being honest right there that we're not done, car stolen the track, that's amazing butt.

ALEMANY: That's exactly right. I was thinking this week is it was sort of taking a premature victory lap in my opinion. There's a lot of work to be done here. But I just want to make a point really quickly about Josh Gottheimer's threat as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi always says the vote is the currency of the realm. They simply don't have the votes to even pass bipartisan infrastructure bill right now, if they wanted to take a vote.

There are dozens and dozens of progressives who would tank it vote against it. If it does -- I do not get the impression based on my phone calls this morning that has Speaker Pelosi is going to budge. As one person eloquently phrased it to me, there are no a la carte options here. There's just the buffet.

KING: It's just the buffet. We saw the president and his legislative team work really hard on the Republicans to keep the bipartisan thing together in the Senate. Do they think they get involved here? Or do they leave it to the leaders, Pelosi and Schumer, to deal with the family business?

BARRON-LOPEZ: They do tend to leave it to the leaders to deal with the family business. But the White House is going to be involved, such today that they put out a statement saying that both are essential. They've been saying that all along.

They're saying it again today, as Moderates are clearly trying to really push Pelosi to get what they want. So the White House is going to be helping, they're going to be working on around this, not just to make sure that this gets passed or that bipartisan infrastructure gets passed. But that also reconciliation happens and that it's not whittled down as much because we know that a lot of Moderates want to see that.

RAJU: And don't forget though, John, that all those Moderates are also concerned about that price tag too. So that's going to be part of the concession. They're going to try to extract from both Biden and Pelosi.

KING: Everything here is a piece of negotiations strategy fun. Ahead for us one state, two senators, a snapshot of the Republican Party's big COVID divide. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


KING: The two Kentucky senators, Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell, well, right now they show us the stark divide within the Republican Party on how to handle the COVID crisis. Senator Paul, if you don't know it was just suspended from YouTube for spreading COVID disinformation. Senator McConnell, on the other hand is paying for ads urging people back home to get the COVID vaccine.

Our Capitol Hill Reporter Melanie Zanona is with us, she has new reporting on this, shall we say contrast, between the two Kentucky Republicans.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITAL HILL REPORTER: That's right. I mean, these two Kentucky Republicans have really come to embody the split, not just in the Republican Party, but in the entire country about how best to handle this virus that is still very much ravaging the nation and their home state of Kentucky.

You have Mitch McConnell, who has arguably been probably one of the most responsible and consistent voices in the GOP when it comes to urging people to get vaccinated. He even used his own campaign money to run ads in Kentucky to urge people to get the shot.

And then you have Rand Paul, who has publicly argued with Anthony Fauci, he has refused to wear a mask last year even after he contracted coronavirus. And just this week, he was suspended from YouTube for spreading misinformation about the effectiveness of wearing masks.

And so look, when you alluded to this, it's no secret that they have not always gotten along. They've been at odds before. Rand Paul often is a thorn in the side of many of his Republican colleagues. But this is so much more than politics and policy, right?

I mean, this is public health. And for Mitch McConnell, the mission is very personal. He's a polio survivor. He has been trying from the beginning of this pandemic to try to get a hold on it. And Rand's messaging is really threatening to undermine that. And I also point out that cases and hospitalizations are surging in Kentucky, like they are in much of the nation right now.

KING: You mentioned the personal nature of it, it is interesting, because McConnell using his experience as a polio survivor saying, look, I'm living proof, get your vaccine, get your vaccine. Rand Paul is a doctor. He's an ophthalmologist and eye doctor, but a lot of people have -- a lot of public health professionals get very frustrated, because he's known as Dr. Paul, and he says stuff, which is frankly, just nuts.

ZANONA: Right. And he says, I'm not anti-vaccine, but then he'll turn around and say, but I'm not going to push people to get it. It's a personal choice. So that sort of mixed messaging is very problematic in the party. KING: Very problematic in the party. What about the personal relationship when Tea Party Paul came to town? He didn't get along, then they tried to say we will get along. Is this just the difference? Or is it a difference that makes it even worse?

ZANONA: They have had a very hot and cold relationship, more on the cold side lately. But look, I've talked to people who are close to Mitch McConnell, and they say his strategy is not to sort of publicly poke at Rand Paul and not to pick head fights with him. He believes the best way to counteract this messaging just keep pushing his own pro-vaccine message.

KING: Maybe inside game. Melanie Zanona, I'm grateful for the reporting and grateful for your time today. Do have a fantastic weekend. Hope to see you back here on Monday. Don't go anywhere. Pamela Brown picks up our coverage right now.