Blue State Residents Are Flocking to Red States

Posted: Aug 26, 2014 6:50 AM

People are fleeing blue states in droves. In Illinois alone, half of its residents would rather move someplace else. You might recall Dan’s post detailing their plight. After all, the Land of Lincoln had anemic job growth; only 500 jobs were created between 2013-2014. But, while blue state residents flocking to conservative states might serve as good PR, it’s changed the electoral math. Blue state migration helped Obama win Colorado, Florida, and Virginia in 2008 and 2012 (via NYT):

Over the last few decades, residents of many traditionally liberal states have moved to states that were once more conservative. And this pattern has played an important role in helping the Democratic Party win the last two presidential elections and four of the last six.

The blue diaspora has helped offset the fact that many of the nation’s fastest-growing states are traditionally Republican. You can think of it as a kind of race: Population growth in these Republican states is reducing the share of the Electoral College held by traditionally Democratic states. But Democratic migration has been fast enough, so far, to allow the party to overcome the fact that the Northeast and industrial Midwest contain a smaller portion of the country’s population than they once did.

The migration helped President Obama win Colorado, Florida and Virginia in both 2008 and 2012. In 2014, the influx of blue-state natives gives Democrats a better chance to win Senate races in Colorado, Georgia and North Carolina, among other places.

The spread of people born in New York State offers a particularly telling example: Of the 20 million Americans alive today who were born in New York, nearly one in six now live in the South. That would have been almost unthinkable 50 years ago, when the share was one in 25.

Also, the Times noted that blue state migration is especially high in South Carolina, Idaho, and Utah. But have no fear; there’s no immediate impact yet. Not all residents from blue states are liberal, as seen with the migration patterns to Texas, Utah, and Idaho. In fact, the Lone Star State has welcomed a healthy share of red state migrants as well.

Nevertheless, the wonks helming the New York Times’ Upshot say that the "blue state diaspora" will likely continue. That might require conservatives to be savvier in their political maneuvering given the diluted voter rolls; challenge accepted.