The last 100 years have given ample proof that the further left a regime is, the more people want to leave it. Saskatchewan’s socialism sent private businesses and people scurrying to Alberta. The Berlin Wall was erected to keep Eastern Europeans from fleeing communism. These days, it is Americans leaving Democratic states for Republican ones.
U.S. Census data showed that the top five states for population drop from 2010 to 2019 were all Democrat-controlled. California, New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Illinois lost a combined four million residents. Meanwhile, a recent study from U-Haul showed that the top five states for new arrivals are Republican-led Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Ohio and Arizona.
As Republican Governors Association deputy communications director Mike Demkiw told Forbes, “People are desperate to escape the heavy-handed, regulation-ridden, big-government approach pushed by liberal governors.”
In 1976, Margaret Thatcher famously said, “Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money.” These days, American “Leftugees” (as columnist Jason Orestes, of the Washington Examiner, called them) have decided to take their nest out of the mess.
Black Lives Matter riots and pandemic restrictions, especially pronounced in Democrat jurisdictions, have also sent urban residents fleeing to suburbs and rural areas. Many Denver residents who watched rioters burn their city moved to nearby Republican-voting Douglas County, the ninth wealthiest county in America.
Douglas County includes Sterling Ranch, a development that will have nine villages and 12,000 homes when it’s completed. Harold Smethills, the principal of Sterling Ranch, told Forbes, “We’ve absolutely seen a surge of buyers from not only downtown Denver, but from San Francisco, Chicago, Manhattan and many of the cities that also suffered during the past year.”
In Fort Myers, Florida, Steven Hicks owns a house-flipping company and knows why the hordes have arrived. “Between the high crime, oppressive taxes, high cost of living, lockdowns and cold winter weather in places like New York, people are looking for a new life in a safer, more comfortable environment,” Hicks said. “We continually hear that same theme from our buyers.”
The cold is a little factor but not much. Most Canadians would be gleeful for average lows of 8 °C, in December and January as San Francisco has. The job search database Hired surveyed tech workers and found 42 per cent would leave San Francisco and 40 per cent would leave New York if they were allowed to work from home full time. The percentage is nearly identical.
U.S. congressional districts are based on population, and the latest census data also show a Republican shift. Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York have Democratic governors and voted for Joe Biden, but will each lose a congressional seat. Meanwhile, Texas, Florida and North Carolina, which chose Republican Donald Trump the past two elections, will gain a combined four seats.
The Washington Post reported, “Five of the seven states that lost a House seat voted for Biden, and five of the seven new seats will be added to states that voted for Trump.” With five vacancies in the House, the Democrats have only a six-seat lead. A four-seat swing would give Republicans control in 2022.
Gallup polling has also demonstrated a trend in recent years by asking Americans whether they identify as conservative, moderate or liberal. Here, liberals outnumbered conservatives in nine states in 2017 but only six in 2018. New Hampshire was one of them, but in 2020, their state House of Representatives, Senate and governor’s mansion all went Republican.
Not all the population shift is due to movement. In 2004, Philip Longman noted in Foreign Policy magazine that “the gradual drift of American culture away from secular individualism and toward religious fundamentalism” is due to the former group having fewer children: “Among states that voted for President George W. Bush in 2004, fertility rates are 12 percent higher than in states that voted for Sen. John Kerry.”
Stats like these led Eric Peter Kaufmann to ask in 2010 “Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?” The University of London scholar concluded, “The more religious people are, the more children they will have. Not only will the religious eventually triumph over the non-religious, but it is those who are the most extreme who have the largest families.” Kaufmann believed the impact on Western politics would be inevitable.
Author Steve Turley has even more to say about all of this in his book, The Return of Christendom. The famous podcaster predicts demographic and political trends like those mentioned above will not only lead to more nationalism, populism and conservatism in the United States, but also in Europe. In Canada, we ask God in song to “keep our land glorious and free,” so would it be any different?
Lee Harding is a research associate for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
Photo by Isabella and Zsa Fischer on Unsplash.