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When Red States Go Blue

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

New residents are lured by red-state perks, but unfortunately, they bring their blue-state values.

Recent Census data (2014) shows that the top seven states with the biggest percentage increases in in-migration — those gaining in number of residents — are North Dakota, Nevada, South Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Arizona, and Texas. All red states except Colorado, which is purple.

The top states with the biggest percentage out-migration, which is to say the states losing the most residents, are Alaska, New York, Illinois, Connecticut, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Kansas. All these states are blue, except Alaska and Kansas.

According to the American Community Survey in 2015, New York had 69,289 migrants to Florida. In total, the survey counted 1.5 million people living in Florida who were born in New York. In comparison, only 0.9 million people who were born in New York were living in New Jersey — right next door.

New York wasn’t the only state hemorrhaging population. California had 65,546 migrants to Texas.

While we’re looking at California, you may know that Orange County is famous for being the only Republican stronghold along the Pacific Coast. Unsurprisingly, the American Community Survey also found that one of the largest county migration flows was folks moving from Los Angeles County to Orange County.

As you can see, this is a nationwide trend. And yes, it’s happening here in Virginia.

In 2006, Virginia was 42nd in terms of net out-migration, bringing in 34,203 more residents than we lost. Number 51 was Texas, which brought 173,243 more than it lost. New York lost 228,444.

In 2016, Virginia slipped to 11th in net out-migration, losing 11,507 residents.

Why are folks beginning to leave Virginia? Because over the same time period Virginia has slipped in the business rankings due to blue-state policies creeping in, driven by an increasingly blue Northern Virginia.

To put this in perspective, let’s compare where the commonwealth ranks in various surveys on economic competitiveness and the general climate for business.

Between 2010 and 2017, Virginia slipped from second to fifth in Forbes’ “Best States for Business” ranking; from second to seventh in CNBC’s “America’s Top States for Business” ranking; from second to seventh in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Enterprising States” ranking; fourth to 15th in Chief Executives’ “Best and Worst States for Business” ranking; and from fourth to ninth in Site Selection Magazine’s “Business Climate” ranking.


Editor's Note: This column originally appears in the Richmond Times-Dispatch

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