U.S. Migration Data Show More People Leaving Politically Blue for Red Counties in 2017

U.S. Migration Data Show More People Leaving Politically Blue for Red Counties in 2017

Residential News » Washington D.C. Edition | By Michael Gerrity | October 17, 2017 8:03 AM ET

According to a new analysis from Redfin, in the first half of 2017, over 7.4 percent more people moved out of politically blue (Democratic) counties than to them. Yet, Red (Republican) counties saw about 1 percent more people moving in than moving out. Purple counties, where there's a more balanced share of Democrats and Republicans, saw 3.9 percent more migrants moving in than out.

The trend is even more pronounced in swing states, which saw blue counties lose 9.2 percent more people than they gained, while Republican counties gained 2.3 percent more than they lost.

High housing costs in blue counties are driving this trend. Nationwide, the average home in a blue county costs around $360,000--more than 62 percent more than that of homes in red counties ($223,000).

"As blue counties are becoming increasingly less affordable, we see a great number of residents moving to red counties where they can afford the lifestyle they want," said Redfin chief economist Nela Richardson. "At Redfin, we see this as a sign of hope for a less divided country, where people with differing views gain better understanding and tolerance of each other through sheer proximity."

However, politics can be a key factor for people in deciding where to move. A Redfin survey found that 41 percent of recent homebuyers reported hesitations about moving to a place where most people have political views different from their own. In contrast, fewer than one in 10 respondents were enthusiastic about moving to a different political climate, with the remaining half neutral.

While the evidence that people will continue to self-sort by political beliefs is strong, Redfin contends that the housing affordability crisis in the bluest counties is unprecedented. With no sign of a drastic drop in prices anytime soon, there's an argument that many more people, regardless of politics, will move to where they can buy a comfortable home.
Redfin analyzed user search data, comparing where prospective homebuyers currently live to where they are searching for a home to buy. Redfin's user data covers more than 72 percent of the voting age population and is concentrated in urban metropolises, which gives the company a specific and recent look at where residents of blue counties are looking to move. Counties were classified as "blue" if the Democratic candidate for 2016 won by more than 20 percentage points and vice versa for "red" counties.

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