The other 'election' where Democrats are taking a beating

Democrats took a drubbing at the polls on Nov. 2. But when it comes to Americans voting with their feet by fleeing mismanaged, high-tax, heavy-regulation states, blue states have been taking a drubbing for years.

The two top state destinations are Florida and Texas, according to the Texas Realtors’ “Texas Relocation Report.” More than 500,000 people moved to Texas in 2019 for the seventh year in a row. Where are they coming from? 

The Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University just released an assessment of where newly arrived Texans came from during the pandemic. According to the report, California was the largest contributor to Texas’s population in 2020.

ADVERTISEMENT

That’s not news, though. It will be news only when California isn’t the top contributor of new Texans.

For example, the report notes that the Golden State has been the leader in supplying new Texans for 19 of the past 20 years. The only exception was in 2005, when Louisiana supplied the most new Texans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. 

So only a historic natural disaster provides more new Texans than a chronic, multi-year political disaster like California.

There’s more. The Research Center Report also identifies the top 10 counties across the country that contributed to Texas’s population growth. Of those 10, five counties are in California: San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, San Diego and Los Angeles, with LA providing the most new Texans by county.

But King County in Washington State, which includes Seattle, is also on the list. As is El Paso County, Colo., and Clark County, Nev.

Of course, no list of counties providing new Texans would be complete without Illinois, and indeed Cook County (Chicago) is there. And even though Arizona may still be slightly reddish (or purple), blue Maricopa County (Phoenix) is also on the list.

ADVERTISEMENT

To sum up, of the 10 counties providing the most new Texans in 2020, every one except Arizona is in a Democratic-run state. And most are from very blue counties.

But just to show you how politically and economically tone-deaf these blue-state bastions are, a group called World Business Chicago ran a full-page ad in the Dallas Morning News on Sept. 12. It reads:

“Dear Texas: There were always more than 100 reasons why Chicago is a great place for business. Now we’d like to list a few more. In Chicago, we believe in:

  • Every person’s right to vote
  • Protecting reproductive rights
  • Science to fight Covid-19 

“If you want to build or expand your company or are looking to build your career, come to Chicago." 

We’ll see, but my guess is the phone isn’t ringing off the hook.

Here are a couple of important facts the ad doesn’t mention. A Chicago Sun Times headline from October reads: “Downtown shootings up 220%” 

The paper goes on to say, “Murders, shootings, rapes and car thefts are all up sharply in the downtown area, prompting fears among residents and business owners similar to those that have long been a reality in struggling neighborhoods beyond the skyscrapers.”

Nothing like “murders, rapes and car thefts” headlines to lure a prospective business to a new city.

Another point the World Business Chicago ad fails to mention: Illinois has the fifth highest corporate income tax among the states, 9.5 percent, according to the Tax Foundation. Seems odd that a Chicago business group doesn’t highlight that relevant fact.

And let’s mention one more oversight by World Business Chicago. Ever year Chief Executive magazine publishes its “Best and Worst States for Business,” a survey of chief executives about the, well, best and worst states for business.

Several years ago the magazine’s editor told me there were two constants in the annual survey: Texas always ranked No. 1 as the best state to do business and California always came in dead last. That appears to still be the case in 2021.

But what about Illinois? It came in at No. 48.

Democrats are understandably concerned about their stunning loss at the polls on Nov. 2. But the election that should most concern them is the one in which Americans vote with their feet. In that “election” Democrats have been losing for years.

Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @MerrillMatthews.