What: The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census. President Trump has also announced that he is asking his legal team to delay the 2020 census.
Why it matters: If the government managed to sneak the question into the census, undocumented migrants would be afraid of answering, which would cause a major undercount of the Hispanic population, as a substantial amount of Hispanics are citizens of Latin American countries. This would diminish the rationale of marketing against this very important part of the U.S. population.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The Trump administration allegedly wanted to include this question because it would allow for better protections for minority voters, but the justices decided that the administration did not provide enough justification for including the question.
As a response, President Trump tweeted that he will try to delay the census until he can include the question. Because the justices sent the case back to a lower court, there’s a possibility that he could somehow provide the necessary justification for the citizenship question.
Seems totally ridiculous that our government, and indeed Country, cannot ask a basic question of Citizenship in a very expensive, detailed and important Census, in this case for 2020. I have asked the lawyers if they can delay the Census, no matter how long, until the…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2019
What Does the Citizenship Question Mean for Marketing?
If the question were somehow included, the main consequence would be that immigrant households would refuse to answer. In the words of David Queamante, SVP, Client Business Partner at UM Worldwide, “a citizenship question might dissuade undocumented Hispanics, or Hispanics that are in the naturalization process (but not yet citizens) from responding to the census.” This would worsen an issue that started a long time ago. As Queamante explains, “for a long time there have been estimates that millions of resident Hispanics don’t complete the census. With the citizenship question, we would expect to see even more people disappearing from the census. Then, from a marketing perspective, it might ‘appear’ as if the Hispanic population was diminishing, or not growing at the rapid pace that we know it is.”
When asked about how a census delay could impact media buying, Queamante mentions it would not really have an effect. “The census takes quite a bit of time to be processed, and then applied to the population estimates that we use for our media math,” he points out. “In the meantime, we would continue to use the data we have available – whether that’s Nielsen population estimates, or the annual Census ACS reports.”
Will the 2020 Census Paid Media Campaign be postponed?
If the Trump administration succeeds in delaying the 2020 census, the paid media campaign to promote the Census could also be postponed. In 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau awarded its 2020 decennial census-integrated communications contract to Young & Rubicam (Y&R). Team Y&R taps into the expertise of 17 agencies, covering the capabilities and expertise needed for such a complex outreach effort. Agencies working with Y&R in the 2020 Census effort include Culture ONE World for Spanish-language media buys and Hogarth, which supports transcreation and in-language adaptation in more than 50 languages across 200 markets.