Occasionally an analysis so turns your head that you have to do your own investigation to determine whether that analysis makes any sense. When it comes from the New York Times (the daily bible of the Left), one needs to take an extra hard look. Before the mid-term election two Times reporters asserted that blue-state voters are moving to red states and making them purple.
Robert Gebeloff and David Leonhardt of the Times took a look at the people flooding out of blue states and moving to red states. They assert that this population flow has been going on for a few decades. They also write that it has played an important role in electing a Democrat as president in four of the last six elections. They believe this movement has changed the voting in states like Colorado, Florida and Virginia. They also contend it gave Democrats better chances in the past election in states like North Carolina and Georgia. They cite that the red states now have 11.5 million transplants which are 12% of the red state population.
To be accurate the authors did make this statement, “Of course, not all blue-state migrants are liberal. And people’s political views can change over time.” To be fair some of the conclusions in the column are accurate, but for the most part I found the column to be wishful thinking of the kind that often happens with left-wing members of the press. Also, to be accurate none of their conclusions or my conclusions are drawn from scientific surveys of the transplants.
First, you cannot draw any denouement from transplants from the Northeast or Midwest to Florida. That has been happening for at least 50 years as people of retirement age move to Florida for the warmer environment. That does not define all of the transplants, but it does define a large portion and they tend to vote Republican these days. Second, the people moving to the Washington suburbs of Virginia are significantly different than other people relocating. The suburbs of Virginia have been built for and on the massive increase in the federal government. The people living there are either government employees or people drinking from the government trough. The fact that this area has recently offset the more conservative areas of the remainder of the state is no surprise. These people, generally speaking, are of two mind-sets -- 1) I am voting for the hand that feeds me and 2) I am part of the new ruling class in America who knows better how you should live your life and what you need.
My first thought focuses on the big picture which the authors never addressed – why the people are moving in the first place. These people are moving from high-tax states with significant regulations. These states are not producing jobs at the same level as red states because of the burdens placed on them by government. The blue states often have long-term obligations for unionized employees that have gargantuan underfunded liabilities for health care and pensions – promises made by negligent political leaders.
The question then is why for heaven’s sake would they move to a state which does not have these same burdens and vote for similar political leaders who will enact policies that would destroy their new home states? Certainly, these transplants may retain certain lassiez-faire attitudes toward social issues, but they can barely be expected to do such on fiscal issues. They want to get away from expensive government that is invasive in their lives and their bank accounts. When they get a job in a state like Florida and see no state taxes taken out of their paycheck, almost to a person I can guarantee you a broad smile crosses their faces.
The authors did state that people change their attitudes over a period of time. But that does not go far enough. These people are relocating to new environments. They are interacting with a completely new group of people that have certain customs. It is hard to believe that they go to these blue states and change the nature of the states. For the most part the people and the culture change them. Having experienced that myself (I lived in Reno, Nevada, for 39 months in my late twenties), I can tell you my Los Angeles friends often asked why I was talking so slowly. The cultural environment changes you and your attitudes toward life.
In this recent election certainly their hypothesis did not match the results. Georgia -- which has had a high rate of blue-state movement -- went for the Republicans. Florida returned their Republican governor to office over their former Republican governor turned Democrat. North Carolina elected a Republican over an incumbent U.S. Senator. Colorado did the same. And Nevada, which has been inundated with Californians, went totally Republican.
Moreover, what you are seeing is that the Blue States are beginning to see they have to either compete or die. Every Midwest state has a Republican Governor – even the formerly liberal ones. Many have Republican legislatures. People are seeing that other states are operating without massive high-tax regulatory governments and saying we want that too.
Now all we have to do is save the Left Coast from itself.