Today we have a Tuesday edition of Blogger Candidate Forum. Human Typist has an appointment tomorrow and will not be available to do Blogger's work.
Red, purple, and blue? Is the American flag changing colors? Relax, not happening in the near or distant future. Really, Jed Kolko looks at what happens when populations in blue counties move to red counties. Specifically, he looks at how this trend affects the latest census data in his CityLab article "Red Counties + Blue Folks = Purple? Reading the New Census Data?" The 2017 Census (census.gov; date accessed Mar. 27, 2018) for local population, recently released, "show that Americans are moving from blue counties to red counties, and at a quickening pace." This demographic trend has steadily accelerated since 2012, and the biggest increase is in the deep counties-where former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton handily bested Republican nominee Donald Trump by at least 20 percent. Mr. Kolko writes, "Blue and red refer to whether Clinton or Trump got more votes in 2016; dark and light refer to whether the margin at least 20 percentage point. Data on voting as not available counties, which were omitted."
What is powering this trend? The ongoing suburbanization (fivethirtyeight.com; Mar. 23, 2017; date access Mar. 27, 2018) of the United States (citylab.com; Feb. 28, 2015; date accessed Mar. 27, 2018) underscores this move red counties. Mr. Kolko sounds an optimistic note for blue counties, "But the news isn't all grim for blue America. Blue counties got a population boost from international migration, partly offsetting losses from domestic migration." Further, the fastest growing red counties are tilting left and could flip in the coming midterm election.
Jed Kolko reports, "The Census breaks population growth into three components: net domestic migration, international migration, and natural increase (births and death)." We begin with domestic migration "which accounts for most of the difference the Census shows in population growth." In 2017 (specifically the Census year ending July 1, 2017), dark blue counties experienced a minuscule 0.7 drop in population, the result of domestic migration--"in other words, more people moved out of these counties to the rest of American than moved in." The light blue counties only experienced a slight drop, while the red counties saw more people moving in than moving out. "The flow of people blue to red counties has picked up in recent years, steadily increasing since 2012." You can see a chart on "Net domestic migration by county, by 2016 vote" at citylab.com; Mar. 22, 2018.
However, international and natural increase migration balance out some of the domestic movement from blue to red counties. Mr. Kolko reports, "International migration contributed six times as much population growth in dark-blue counties as dark-red counties." In other words, "80 percent of net international migration in 2017 was in blue counties, and 56 percent in dark-blue counties." Further, natural--i.e. birth minus deaths--also skewed in favor of the blue counties, the reason being red counties tend to be older, thus higher mortality rates. Mr. Kolko writes, "The contribution of birth to population growth is similar in red and blue counties, on average, and there are both red and blue places where birth rates are high." Demographic growth due to higher birth rates are evident in counties with higher Latino (theglobalist.com; Feb. 14, 2017; date accessed Mar. 27, 2018) or Mormon (paw research.org; May 22, 2015; date accessed Mar. 27, 2018) populations. Among large metropolitans, no big surprise, demographic growth is greater in dark blue El Paso and McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas and dark red Provo-Orem and Ogdan-Clearfield, Utah. See the chart "Components of population change,by 2016 vote" at citylab.com; Mar. 22, 2018
If we combine all avenues of population changes--domestic, international, and natural increase migration--we see that dark blue counties experienced slower growth than other counties, and grew more slowly than previous year. See "County population growth, by 2016 vote" chart at citylab.com; Mar. 22, 2018.
Jed Kolko points out, "The differences between red and blue counties counties echo the broader trend toward the continued suburbanization of America." In essence, "Urban counties of large metros are now growing slowly; they also tend to be dark blue [jedkolko.com; date accessed Mar. 27, 2018]. The fastest-growth counties are the lower-density suburbs of large metros, which lean red [Ibid]." The exception being non-metropolitan areas, which lean heavily red, have a experienced demographic stagnation or shrinkage. Therefore, "while red America includes booming suburbs its also includes struggling rural areas." See "Population change, by place type" chart at citylab.com; Mar. 22, 2018.
What does this mean for Democrats and Republicans? Will the Repbulicans reap the benefits and Democrats be left crying in their blue beer? Not exactly. While red counties may boast being magnets for people, it is possible that "the blue-to-red migrants adopt some of the political view of their new neighbors." However, it is also possible that blue-to-red migrants could bring their politics with them. Check out the 2016 essay titled "Go Midwest Young Hipster" (nytimes.com; Oct. 22, 2016; date access Mar. 27, 2018) went as far as to suggest "migration as a political strategy to help Democrats win outside their traditional strongholds." Possible. However, we are seeing Democrats scoring victories, at the state- and federal-level, in traditionally Republican districts. Think Conor Lamb's recent razor thin victory in Pennsylvania and Democratic wins in Virginia and New Jersey.
Nevertheless, the latest Census population data gives an incomplete picture of voting trends. The current information does not tell us the demographics, politics, or anything else about the individuals Who migrate from blue to red counties. However, one hint might be in how the nature of politics in fast-growing places are shifting. Mr. Kolko writes, "Among red counties there's a huge difference between places that are swinging right and those moving toward." Among the red counties there is a big difference between places that tilt right and those gravitating toward the center. In counties that Mr. Trump won in 2016, "but voted at least 10 percent for Romney in 2012,--" i.e., those that drifted toward the center in in 2016--"population grew at 2.5 percent in 2017, more than three times the national growth rate of 0.7 percent." These places includes Sunbelt counties in metropolitans such as Atlanta and Dallas, as well as a number of counties in Utah. However, counties that flipped from President Obama in 2012 to Mr. Trump in 2016--"including many counties in New York State, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan--grew on average just 0.2 percent in 2017."
What can we conclude about these migratory trends? The midterm electoral map will reflect a shifting population blue to red and red counties drifting left. This may be good news for the Democrats but they should not just rely on this latest Census data. Get out and knock on every door.