[Originally published 12/30/21; updated 1/27/22 to reflect new data that show the trends I was following are even stronger than reported in December. Edits are in bold.]
Political parties routinely seek to shape the electorate to their own purposes, as we see the Democrats seeking more open voting systems, and the Republicans more restricted ones.
But while voting rights issues have been front and center in media coverage, two other electorate-shaping events remain hidden:
- The number of newly naturalized aliens, all potential voters, most of them presumably Democrats, has increased by more than 30,000 a month in the last nine months; and
- The number of GOP voters has been diminished by a somewhat similar number, as Covid-19 disproportionately kills the unvaccinated.
The irony is that Democratic policies drove the increase in Democratic voters, while GOP policies drove the decreases among their own voters. It is often estimated that the GOP is losing 1,000 or so voters daily as Covid kills a disproportionate number of Republicans in the voting population, and the death rates have been rising recently. The GOP leadership is ambivalent about, or even discourages, measures that could save GOP lives, such as vaccinations.
While some on the left have pointed out the fatal follies of the Republicans, no one has noticed the soaring naturalization rates. These have come about simply because the Department of Homeland Security has devoted more resources to the backlog of naturalization applications.
Here are the naturalization approval numbers for the last quarter under Trump (i.e., the first quarter of FY 2021) and for the first three quarters under the Biden administration (the second, third, and fourth quarters of FY 2021):
Q 1, 2021 136,332
Q 2, 2021 197,210
Q 3, 2021 229,608
Q 4, 2021 237,421
The source of these numbers is the “Number of Service-wide Forms” data set issued by USCIS every three months.
That’s an increase of more than 100,000 per quarter in approvals over the year or more than 30,000 a month. While, the backlog of undecided naturalization cases has dropped from 1,105,953 at the end of the first quarter to 839,738 at the end of the fourth, many more Democratic gains from this source are still available.
Meanwhile, USCIS has struggled with a number of issues to reduce the backlog. For more on these challenges, see a recent Wall Street Journal article, behind a partial paywall, entitled: “With Paperwork Locked Underground, Thousands of U.S. Citizenship Applicants Wait and Wait. Pandemic-fueled restrictions at federal records centers, located in limestone caves, have kept many citizenship applications from being processed”.
Not all Covid-19 victims are Republicans, of course, and not all new citizens will vote Democratic, but the total difference looks something like 60,000 a month or so to the Republicans’ detriment. Perhaps the GOP fall-off will only mean smaller Republican majorities in areas like the Dakotas and the Carolinas, with few losses of seats, but perhaps not.