People Really Want to Leave Blue States

by Patrick Brennan

Gallup recently polled Americans on whether they want to move out of their states or not, and there’s a pretty striking trend in the data: The states people are most likely to want to flee are generally controlled by Democrats. Here are the top ten:

These are (with the exception of Nevada, Lousiana, and Mississippi) all states with very large state governments, very high tax burdens, and very high costs of living — and high incomes but relatively high rates of unemployment.

The ten states where residents want to leave least is more diverse​, but it tends to be states with low cost of living and reddish governments:

Gallup also polled people based on whether they were planning to leave their state within the next twelve months, where the split was much more even between red and blue states — though the blue states on that list are quite big and the red ones are small. This might suggest that people dislike what’s going on in blue states, but not enough to actually move. But asking people what they plan to do rather than what they want isn’t necessarily any more accurate, and migration patterns seem to suggest people are indeed moving based on these preferences: States like Illinois, Rhode Island, and New York are losing population while states like Texas are gaining it. (The Manhattan Institute has examined this issue through the lens of migration out of California.)​

When they asked people why they’re planning to leave, by far the most common answer was employment/economic reasons, while cost of living wasn’t that popular — except in New York, where it was the most common answer. The fact that people plan to leave because of weak economies rather than cost of living (which includes taxation levels, of course) is sort of interesting — it suggests that the growth-killing second-order effects of liberal state governance are what’s forcing people to flee such places, not the first-order issues of, say, high housing costs from regulation. That is technically impossible to determine from Gallup’s data, though.

The Agenda

NRO’s domestic-policy blog, by Reihan Salam.