O'Malley bests Gingrich in "Crossfire" statistical faceoff

Newt Gingrich

Since 2007, "Texas has gained 440,000 people" while "Maryland has lost 20,000."
Wednesday, September 18th, 2013 in a discussion on CNN's "Crossfire"

A faceoff on CNN’s Crossfire between Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, produced a robust debate over how best to promote a state’s economic growth and quality of life. It also produced a blizzard of statistics with varying degrees of accuracy.

One of the disputes focused on population growth, with co-host Newt Gingrich suggesting that people were flocking to Texas and abandoning Maryland because of their economic performance.

Here’s the exchange:

O’Malley: "One of the key differences between our two states, Newt, is that our state was ranked among the top three in upward economic mobility. Texas was ranked among the worst states in terms of downward economic mobility."

Gingrich: "Let me ask you this. As an objective fact, in the five years you've been governor, Texas has gained 440,000 people. According to the U.S. Census, Maryland has lost 20,000. Now, if we're having all this upward trajectory, why is Texas doing 22 times better in population migration over the last five years than Maryland?"

O’Malley: "Actually, you need to check your facts. We've actually added 230,000 people. And we've actually grown by 4 percent. But that fact is dubiously put out by some blogs."

Gingrich: "This is the U.S. Census."

They both can’t be right, so we turned to the source Gingrich cited: the U.S. Census Bureau.

The bureau not only counts the United States’ population every 10 years but also estimates population every year in between. We looked at the population estimates for the five-year period between 2007, the year O’Malley took office, and 2012, the most recent year available. Here’s the summary:

State / 2007 population est / 2012 population est / Numerical chg / Pct change
Maryland / 5,653,408 / 5,884,563 / + 231,155 / + 4.1%
Texas / 23,831,983 / 26,059,203 / + 2,227,220 / + 9.3%
United States / 301,621,157 / 313,914,040 / + 12,292,883 / + 4.1%

So, Gingrich was wrong on all counts. Maryland didn’t lose 20,000 people in the past five years; as O’Malley correctly noted, Maryland gained just over 230,000 people during that period. O’Malley was also essentially correct about the percentage increase for Maryland -- 4.1 percent.

Meanwhile, Texas didn’t gain 440,000 people over the past five years, as Gingrich had said. The Lone Star State actually gained many more -- upwards of 2.2 million new Texans over five years.

Perhaps Gingrich was thinking of just the past year. Between 2011 and 2012, Texas gained about 427,000 people, which is reasonably close to 440,000. But if Gingrich intended to use that figure, his number for Maryland would still be wrong, since Maryland gained 56,274 over the same period, rather than losing 20,000.

Gingrich’s broader point does have some merit -- Texas has clearly experienced robust population growth. Comparing the two states, Texas’ population increased at more than twice the rate that Maryland’s did. Still, Maryland was not the population laggard Gingrich suggests: Its growth during the five-year period in question -- 4.1 percent -- was exactly in line with the national average.

Our ruling

On Crossfire, Gingrich said that since 2007, "Texas has gained 440,000 people" while "Maryland has lost 20,000." That’s not correct. In fact, the Census numbers actually back up what O’Malley immediately countered Gingrich with. We rate Gingrich’s claim False.


Newt Gingrich, comments on CNN’s Crossfire, Sept. 18, 2013

U.S. Census Bureau, "Intercensal Estimates of the Resident Population by Sex and Age for States: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2010" (index page), accessed Sept. 19, 2013

U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates 2007: National Tables, accessed Sept. 19, 2013

U.S. Census Bureau, "Annual Estimates of the Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012," accessed Sept. 19, 2013

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