The 5th District’s Changing Dynamic

Add Gary Ackerman to the list of New York politicians upset about the census.

According to last month’s census count, New York City only has 8,175,133 people, a growth of only 2.1 percent and far different from the initial projections of 8.3 million, and Queens, one of the most populous counties in the country, grew by only 0.1 percent. The release caused quite a stir in New York City, to say the least, and the Mayor has announced that the city is formally challenging the results.

“Everything we know about these neighborhoods tells a different story,” Mike Bloomberg said. “People who have tried to find apartments in these neighborhoods can confirm there just isn’t an abundance of vacancies.”

Ackerman’s district – New York’s 5th – gained only 44,782 people. According to Social Explorer’s Andrew Beveridge, the current district population of 699,143 is a 2.59 percent deviation of the ideal district population size of 717,707. What that means is Ackerman’s is one of many seats in New York City that could be in danger of going away.

The redistricting of New York after the latest census could come as quite a blow to New York Democrats in general, who make up the vast majority of the state’s congressional seats. And with his many years in Congress, the presumed undercount may be the only way that Ackerman has even a chance of being bumped from his seat.

But Ackerman isn’t the only politician facing redistricting problems. As a matter of fact, New York’s 5th ranks as one of the least affected in the city. Peter King and Greg Meeks appear to be hit hardest on that front, as their districts deviate close to 9 percent from the ideal population size.

What could affect Ackerman, however, are his district’s shifting demographics. Ackerman’s district has seen great growth in its Asian and Hispanic population. Overall, the 5th District has dropped from 44 percent non-Hispanic white to 36 percent white. Asians, meanwhile, make up 33 percent of the district, and Hispanics 26 percent. Even in parts of historically white Port Washington and Manorhaven, the Hispanic population has increased by between 15 and 30 percent. This change means that his largely white and Jewish base isn’t as prevalent as it once was, and it’s a change he’s already working to address directly. When asked about the census, Ackerman called the Queens results “bizarre,” and blamed them on a faulty count – particularly in the borough’s more diverse areas.

“I know of no neighborhood where there are fewer people than there were in the last census,” he said. “But I know of scores of neighborhoods where the population has increased in multiples, particularly within the ethnic and minority communities in Queens.”

These census results – accurate or not – indicate that Ackerman will have to start appealing to a broader base of New Yorkers going forward.

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