To better understand the issue can a screenshot of the unexpected behavior be shared? Additionally another thing to note is that for smaller towns in the US there might not be population data contained natively in Tableau.
Hope this helps!
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Take a look at this extension activity - Tableau Public
Instead of doing a more/less scenario, replace this with your logic of population data/no population data from your usecase. It sounds like it will be a bit trickier, but its doable.