The Washington Post ran an interesting story today about a rapidly aging population in Iowa, which included some fascinating figures:
Iowa is one of eight states where the population hasn’t doubled over the last century. It’s the only state that hasn’t grown by at least 50 percent in the same time, said Tim Albrecht, a spokesman for Gov. Terry Branstad (R). Iowa had 2.2 million residents in 1900; the 2010 Census estimated the state had 3 million residents.
Those numbers got us thinking about the Colorado counties that are planning to ask their citizens to vote on seceding from the state. There are 11 counties, by our count, that have approved a ballot measure asking voters if they want to secede from Colorado (which, of course, is only a very small step toward an otherwise implausible final outcome). Weld County, the ringleader of this circus, is far and away the largest of the 11 counties considering secession. With a 2012 population estimate of 263,691 residents, Weld County has grown at roughly the same rate as the State of Colorado since 1910 — increasing its population by about 650% in the past century.
But what about the other 10 counties in question (see chart below)? That's where things start to look a bit silly when news articles lump the counties together as a "movement." The combined estimated 2012 population of those 10 counties is 96,270 — or just about 37% of the entire population of Weld County. Some of those 10 counties saw modest population increases in the last 100 years, but four (Cheyenne, Lincoln, Sedgwick, and Washington) actually had more residents in 1910 than in 2012.
So as we hear more about Colorado counties trying to secede from the state, it's important to keep in mind the amount of people we are talking about here. This isn't to say that the opinion of a rural county resident is less important than someone in Metro Denver — there are just fewer of those opinions by an exponential amount. Population shifts to the Front Range created more Front Range legislators, which is exactly how our representative Democracy is intended to function.
|COUNTY||2012 POP.||1910 POP.|
*Census data for Moffat County begins in 1920, not 1910.