Census politics

The two chiefs of the U.S. Census bureau have resigned their posts before the ramp-up to the 2010 census. This is slightly old news – from back in November, but it’s still of significant interest. To statisticians, geographers and politicians anyway. From the AAG Newsletter:

Political insiders have suggested that the officials, both highly regarded statisticians, were targeted by Republicans intent on appointing replacements who would be less likely to favor sampling for the 2010 Census. Sampling is used primarily to estimate the true population size of hard-to-measure localities and tally unaccounted for residents. Its heaviest influence is typically felt in urban communities that tend to vote for Democratic congressional candidates

The irony is that sampling could greatly reduce the cost of taking the census and provide more accurate information than a full census. Yes – a government program that is incredibly useful to the government itself, academia and research, and extensively by businesses in understanding our populace. A little more info here at washingtonpost.com. What a great beard.