Usually, the media assume these two Americas represent equally viable political economies. But this is increasingly not the case. In population terms at least, red America is now growing far more rapidly than blue America. And this makes it more important politically. Since 1990, Texas has gained eight congressional seats, Florida five and Arizona three. In contrast, New York has lost five, Pennsylvania four and Illinois three. California, which now suffers higher net outbound-migration ratesthan most Rustbelt states, lost a congressional seat in 2020 for the first time in its history.
This decline in blue America has accelerated since the pandemic, due to rising crime and the availability of remote work. Last year, New York, California and Illinois lost more people to outbound migration than all other states. Demographer Wendell Cox notes that the largest percentage loss of residents has occurred in big core cities such as New York City, Chicago and San Francisco. In contrast, population burgeoned in sprawling areas such as Phoenix, Dallas and Orlando.
The future of the GOP depends on the continued growth of such places, as well as the growth of suburbia nationwide. Between 2010 and 2020, 51 major metropolitan areas lost 2.7million net domestic migrants from their most central counties, while suburban counties gained two million people. The Midterms show that Republicans are gaining ground in these largely suburban areas – particularly in Florida, as well as suburban Phoenix, the outskirts of Atlanta, the Houston exurbs, largely suburban Nashville, the sprawling Virginia Beach area and suburban Detroit. Democrats, where they made gains yesterday, tended to be in places like California, where the Republican Party has all but ceased to exist.
Whether Democrats like it or not, these red-leaning places, not California or New York, are where more Americans plan to settle and start families. Today, blue-state economies, based on tech and finance, generally underperform more blue-collar red economies like Texas, Arizona, Florida and Tennessee. Over the past five years, Raleigh, Phoenix, Nashville, Salt Lake City and Dallas have grown jobs at a faster rate than Silicon Valley and Seattle – and at double the rate of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Investors are placing their bets in these places, too. California, easily the most important blue state, ranked near the bottom in 2020 in terms of new capital projects, and it suffered even further losses in 2021. The reshoring of basic industries like mining and manufacturing, as well as the new surge of chip production, is happening almost entirely in states like Ohio, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. Even the green economy – so passionately embraced on the blue coasts – won’t provide many jobs there. Almost all the new electric vehicle and battery plants are located either in the Rustbelt, the south or in places east of the Sierra Nevada.