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The Red State Renaissance

Joel Kotkin, writing in today’s Wall Street Journal:

In the wake of the 2012 presidential election, some political commentators have written political obituaries of the “red” or conservative-leaning states, envisioning a brave new world dominated by fashionably blue bastions in the Northeast or California. But political fortunes are notoriously fickle, while economic trends tend to be more enduring.

These trends point to a U.S. economic future dominated by four growth corridors that are generally less dense, more affordable, and markedly more conservative and pro-business: the Great Plains, the Intermountain West, the Third Coast (spanning the Gulf states from Texas to Florida), and the Southeastern industrial belt.

Overall, these corridors account for 45% of the nation’s land mass and 30% of its population. Between 2001 and 2011, job growth in the Great Plains, the Intermountain West and the Third Coast was between 7% and 8%—nearly 10 times the job growth rate for the rest of the country. Only the Southeastern industrial belt tracked close to the national average.

… Since 2000, the Intermountain West’s population has grown by 20%, the Third Coast’s by 14%, the long-depopulating Great Plains by over 14%, and the Southeast by 13%. Population in the rest of the U.S. has grown barely 7%. Last year, the largest net recipients of domestic migrants were Texas and Florida, which between them gained 150,000. The biggest losers? New York, New Jersey, Illinois and California.

The handwriting is on the wall here. The blue state model is losing market share (talk to any group of conservatives in California and the topic of where everyone is considering moving will invariably come up in the first 15 minutes), which is a real problem given that it relies on populations sufficiently large to buttress its thicket of transfer payments.

Here’s what I’m curious about: to what extent will the culture follow the economy? Will a red state media center emerge to compete with New York, Los Angeles, and Washington? Will universities in the interior of the country start to see their prestige rise relative to the legacy institutions of the coasts? Will there be new entertainment meccas to compete with Hollywood or Broadway (the first person who suggests Branson gets their membership revoked)?

Also, given that this topic comes up here from time to time, I’m curious to hear members’ thoughts on two questions:

If you live in one of the decaying blue states, what is your tipping point for packing up and leaving?

And if you live in one of the ascendant red states, how do you feel about the influx of new residents?

  1. Brian Clendinen

    Only if Wedlock births don’t take over which pretty much takes the southeast and third coast out. Utah has the highest fertility rate and lowest wedlock birth rate next I think are states Like Idaho and Colorado.

  2. Kelly B
    MichaelC19fan: The problem is I have seen lots of cases of formerly GOP bed rock areas going Blue or at a minimum Purple due to migration.

    1: VT due to burnt out New Yorkers who moved after making their fortune on WallStreet

    2: NH: Ex-Bostonians and New Yorkers  

    3: NoVa: When I was young and drove south on I-95 from NY to FL you felt you entered the South when you crosses the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Now NoVa is the same as being in any other part of the Northeast Corridor.

    4: NV, OR, WA and CO: Ex-Californians

    It seems those left behind in places like NY, CA etc get Bluer and Bluer. I do not know of any case where a Blue has gone Red due to migration.

    Yes in the short term these Red areas are benefiting but over time the Blue Staters who moved there will take over. · 23 minutes ago

    This worries me, since I’ve seen it happen here in Colorado.  We’re looking to get out within the next couple of years – Texas or Third Coast – but I’m praying they don’t start turning purple.

  3. DN Gic

    I’m a Blue-Stater who’s not moving anytime soon. My work and and extended family have me tied to the region in the near term.

    Longer term, perhaps when I retire, I’ll no longer be able to afford the high tax environment, and then, other locales will beckon.

  4. GLDIII

    In blue state Maryland, the tipping point is retirement/children out the door (5 to 7 best guess). The potential Red states under consideration are Idaho and the Carolinas, from a livability POV. Tax-wise Delaware, Florida, Texas are pleasing but the weather will not support continued matrimony.

  5. Basil Fawlty
    MichaelC19fan: The problem is I have seen lots of cases of formerly GOP bed rock areas going Blue or at a minimum Purple due to migration.

    3: NoVa: When I was young and drove south on I-95 from NY to FL you felt you entered the South when you crosses the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Now NoVa is the same as being in any other part of the Northeast Corridor.

    It seems those left behind in places like NY, CA etc get Bluer and Bluer. I do not know of any case where a Blue has gone Red due to migration.

    Yes in the short term these Red areas are benefiting but over time the Blue Staters who moved there will take over. · 32 minutes ago

    Amen.  I’d refer to Virginia as a decaying red state.  The influx of blue staters has been such that our Republican boy governor feels comfortable engineering a 20% increase in the state sales tax in Northern Virginia.

  6. Mario the Gator

    Florida is another decaying Red state and may go Blue if it has not already.  Some immigrants to Florida are Blue retirees from the Northeast.  We also have a lot of Puerto Ricans in Orlando and they have turned that area from Red to Blue.  I would love to see some conservatives move down here to save Florida before I end up having to move to Texas. 

  7. Fricosis Guy

    I wouldn’t give up on Blue America quite yet.  The big towns and small cities that aren’t in the middle of nowhere do just fine.  My tax burden is a bit higher in CT than it was in IN, but my public services are better (though I chose my town carefully).

  8. Robert Herring

    The problem here in South Carolina (as elsewhere) is that blue staters, while seeking economic freedom, keep their blue state mindset about government, not realizing (or maybe not caring) that their votes will end what they sought in moving here.

  9. CuriousKevmo

    I’m in California and am desperate to get out.  Unfortunately, I have two things working against me, one big, one little.

    The big one: My step-kids live in the area and wifey doesn’t want to move too far away from them.  Neither do I really (but I try not to say that out loud)

    The little one: I’m a software engineer and this is the center of it.

    But I’m happy to change careers if it gets me out of this s**t hole.  Cabinet-maker, rent-a-husband, motorcycling coach, roustabout, anything really.

    Dying to get to NM or Utah, maybe even Tejas.

  10. Lolli

    Live in Texas (for past 47 yrs) and am worried about blue staters moving in.  Had some big changes after Katrina when we took in bunches of people from New Orleans (my original home town – I always say its a nice place to be from) who decided to stay.  Affected some local politics that went blue.  Its ok if they leave their blue state mentality behind too but I’m afraid that wont happen.  Maybe if they all moved to Austin which is as liberal a place that there can be.  Maybe we will have to send them to re-education camps when they come here?

  11. Kay Ludlow

    I’m living in New York now and about to move to Southern California, but I am dreaming of the day that I can move back to the South.

  12. EJHill
    Troy Senik, Ed.  Will a red state media center emerge to compete with New York, Los Angeles, and Washington?

    There is one already – Atlanta is the home of CNN and how did that work out? Even in the reddest of the red states the major cities are liberal enclaves.

    Just a couple of weeks ago I was in Austin, TX. Couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Where the power of government congregates so will liberals.

  13. rico

    Very thought-provoking question…

    Even in a persistently blue state one can avoid most of  the in-your-face rule-making progressive control-freaks by simply living outside of the major cities. We have a truly wonderful quality of life here in Washington but  I would not live in Seattle. It went beyond the tipping point a few years back when sanitation crews started inspecting residents’ curbside garbage for content that could have (should have!) been recycled.

  14. Jonathan Werner

    I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and recently I moved my family to Irvine, California (Orange County) to be closer to work.  There are still pockets of prosperity (and sanity) in states like California, Orange County being one such rare example.  

    I’m a lawyer, and because California is crawling with us, the state doesn’t offer license reciprocity to any other state (to try to discourage more of us from coming here).  As a result, I’m not aware of any other state that offers reciprocity to California lawyers in return.  So, it’s not so simple to just pack up and leave.  

    I have looked around, and if things continue to go down the drain here, my first pick would be Texas.  As with so much else in that Mecca, they make it relatively easy for out of state lawyers to gain admission to their bar.  Plus, according to Joshua Trevino, despite my handicap (being a lawyer), Texas will welcome me, my family, and my money with open arms.  ;)

  15. Boymoose
    Jordan Wiegand: Can’t wait.  I hope the hard-blue states learn a lesson in the process. · 16 hours ago

    I agree with you Jordan …. however Its odd to me no matter what happens all the “smart” folks of the left think they got it right and we got it worng.  Facts just bounce off them.

  16. Doc
    Basil Fawlty

    Yes in the short term these Red areas are benefiting but over time the Blue Staters who moved there will take over. · 32 minutes ago

    Amen.  I’d refer to Virginia as a decaying red state.  The influx of blue staters has been such that our Republican boy governor feels comfortable engineering a 20% increase in the state sales tax in Northern Virginia. · 5 hours ago

    I hear you. I gave that &$%$# a large campaign contribution in 2009.  What a disgusting sell out.  Also, Obama/Kaine/Connolly bumper stickers abound in my area.  I don’t think VA is turning red again any time soon.

  17. Bryan G. Stephens

    The blues are barbarians that come into an area and sacks the cities and once destroyed they move on. Look at New Jersey. 

    The Atlanta Metro area has lots is Southern character thanks to a lot of people fleeing the north east. Now they are here with their rude manners (“What do you mean you pull over when a funeral is going by on the other side of the road?”)

    I fear seeing the Southern way of living buried under the avalanche from blue states.

  18. Omid Moghadam

    While the outcomes are the same, each of these formerly red states turned blue under different circumstances. In the case of Oregon (where I worked and lived for 10 years), the Republicans made the mistake of taking two deep pocketed business interests (Intel and Nike) out of state politics by exempting them from state taxes. This left the Teachers Union and State Employee Unions as the king makers of state politics. I suspect that if you look in each of the formerly red states you will find similar strategic mistakes.

  19. raycon and lindacon
    FloppyDisk90: I’m not a native Texan but I got here as fast as I could.  I say bring it on.  As long as these folks leave their blue state dependency mentality behind and are prepared to work for a living then more people will mean growth and a larger, hopefully center-right, voice in the political process. · 7 hours ago

    Careful what you wish for.  We here in Colorado have watched our state’s government polluted by the ‘blues’ to the point that we are now seeing 25 years of conservative impulse totally reversed.  The legislature is in the process of disarming the citizens to make the state safe for felons.  The good news is that most of us who have been here a long time will disregard their efforts and, if pushed, will shoot back.

    The blue scum has suffocated the ponds in the attractive coastal areas, and are now determined to cover the healthy parts of America with their pox.

    Too bad we don’t have our own border control keeping the blues out.  And you are kidding yourself if you believe they won’t be in Texas soon.

    As for blue debt, it will be federalized.

  20. Babci

    Left CA…now in TN…still relatively undiscovered, despite Nashville.  I love that people wrinkle up their noses and say, “ohhh, you live in Tennessee…I hear it’s beautiful there.”  The snobbery is fine with me.  We did have some lefties move into our small mountain community and they immediately started telling the locals what they need to do to “progress.” I am enjoying the contest…the libs call everyone stupid and  the good old boys “harumph”.  I just smile…I know who’ll win this one…life is good here in the holler.