Two Americans index: Why people move to red and blue states

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Two Americans index: Why people move to red and blue states
Data: Axios/Ipsos; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Democrats thinking about moving to another state are about twice as likely to consider blue states than red or swing states — and Republicans’ preference for red states over the alternatives is even more pronouncedaccording to the latest findings from our Axios-Ipsos Two Americas Index.

Why it matters: Ideological self-segregation may only be accelerating in these inflationary, post-Roe times.

  • 30% of Americans surveyed said they’ve thought about moving in the past six months.
  • Abortion rights, racial equality and LGBTQ protections were much more likely to influence Democrats’ decision-making, while Republicans were more likely to be motivated by a search for lower taxes.

The big picture: Politics isn’t the main reason people consider moving to another state. The biggest drivers are more likely to be economic reasons, like cost of living and jobs, or personal or family reasons, the poll found.

  • Black and Hispanic Americans were more likely than white Americans to say they’d been thinking of moving states.
  • But if people are considering a move, they’re also likely to think about which states reflect their political and social values — whether through state laws or how new neighbors might view the world.

What they’re saying: “For the most part, people look to be going to a safe space for them, for their ideological identity,” said Ipsos pollster and senior vice president Chris Jackson.

  • Justin Gest, an associate professor at George Mason University who studies the politics of demographic change and advises the project, said though politics isn’t usually the primary reason why people move, “People who have other reasons to locate are clearly choosing with some respect to their values. These trends are only going to continue.”

By the numbers: Republicans were more likely to consider moving to red states (51%) than blue states (20%) or swing states (28%).

  • Democrats were more likely to consider moving to blue states (48%) than red states (25%) or swing states (27%).
  • More than half of Republicans (58%) and Democrats (55%) said they thought about moving to a state where the government better reflects their political and policy values, while 69% of Democrats and 65% of Republicans considered moving to a state that’s a closer match with their cultural and social values.
  • Overall, 38% of those who considered relocating wanted to move to red states, 34% to blue states, and 28% to swing states.
  • Current swing-state residents thinking about moving were about evenly split among moving to a blue state, red state or another swing state.

The intrigue: Overall, 38% of respondents eyeing a move said they were interested in a state where their vote would “count” more.

Zoom in: Cost of living was the top-cited driver among respondents overall — 63% of Republicans thinking about a move and 45% of Democrats. Family, other personal reasons, jobs and taxes also were major reasons.

  • 38% of Republicans and 23% of Democrats said tax-related concerns were driving their thoughts about wanting to move.

But, but, but: Social issues were significant factors for Democrats, too.

  • For Democrats, abortion (24%), race (23%) and LGBTQ+ issues (18%) were driving concerns. That was true to a much smaller degree for Republicans (16%, 10% and 10% respectively).
  • About one in five Democrats and Republicans cited gun issues as contributing to their thinking.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted July 27-28 by Ipsos on their online survey panels in English. This poll is based on a sample of 1,006 general population adults age 18 or older, weighted on age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, and location to be nationally representative.

  • The margin of sampling error is ±3.8 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.

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