Rule Five Great Divorce Friday

Issues & Insights again has some thoughts on the Great Divorce, specifically, that it may already be under way.  I’m inclined to agree.  This is something that has been going on for a while now, the self-segregation of the United States by political affiliation.  That was (a minor) part of Mrs. Animal’s and my relocation to the Great Land, after all.  But as with so many things, there are complications.  I&I points out:

Is the country separating itself into two distinct camps? One increasingly leftist and the other trying desperately to cling to traditional American values? Census data seem to show that it very well could be underway.

Last week, we commented on recent population data showing that people have been fleeing urban areas, noting that these are mostly Democratically controlled, and we pointed out that people have also been moving from blue states to red.

But we wanted to go deeper and get more precise numbers. So, we matched Census net migration data from mid-2020 through mid-2022 for all the nation’s 3,000-plus counties (or their equivalents) and compared that with how these counties voted in 2020. Our working assumption is that the results of the incredibly divisive 2020 election would be a good barometer of the devoutly held political views in those counties. 

What we found was striking: There has been a vast migration out of counties that voted for Joe Biden into those counties that voted to reelect Donald Trump.

None of this should come as any surprise.  Of course, this phenomenon got a shot in the arm from the Kung Flu; lots of people in computer-based occupations, like me, found we could be very effective working remotely.  When I started my consulting business, there was a heck of a lot of travel involved, as even some major companies were still on paper-based systems and to change or even evaluate those systems, you had to be there, in the site, looking at the physical records.  But in my industry at least, many if not most companies have gone to what we call “eQMS” systems – an online Quality Management System, requiring at most a VPN login to view and manage procedures and records.  I know quite a few ‘laptop class’ folks that are the same way now, and that opens up possibilities for relocation.  Nowadays I run almost all of my business efforts from our office.  My consulting business and Mrs. Animal’s publishing business are all run from a little office building full of computer hardware, just across the driveway from our house.  You sure can’t beat the commute – even when it’s snowing and twenty below.

Here are a few of their findings:

More than 61% of the counties that voted for Biden in 2020 lost population, while 65% of Trump-supporting counties gained population.

Some highlights:

  • Of the 555 counties Biden won, 335 (or 61%) lost population due to internal migration, our analysis found. Of the 2,589 counties that Trump won, 1,675 (or 65%) gained population.
  • Two Biden-voting counties that lost the most from net migration were Los Angeles County, which was down 363,760, and Cook County, Illinois, down 200,718. While many of the blue counties that lost population were urbanized, the exodus was widespread and nationwide, including many far more sparsely populated liberal areas.

There’s more – read the whole thing.

One wonders where all this is leading, of course.  I&I concludes:

Will this mass migration lead to an even more divided country, with people increasingly relocating to be with their ideological brethren?

Will it mean that, as in those Arizona and Texas counties, Democrats take over more areas that had been traditionally conservative as they ditch the disasters their own policies produced?

Or will this migration out of leftist enclaves lead to a weakening of the undue influence a few elitist urban areas have on national politics?

My answer would be, “Yes.”  I’m not kidding.  Some areas will draw further left or right; some, like our former stomping grounds of Colorado, will move from red to purple to blue, as that state has.  The tendency of left-leaning folks to migrate from big cities to slightly smaller cities, say, from Los Angeles to Phoenix, will muddle things up some.  We even see that here in the Great Land, where Anchorage is the blue dot swimming in the sea of red that stretches from Eagle River to Fairbanks.

But the end result is troubling.  We’re already seeing it in places like Maricopa County.   People from blue states and big blue cities in the red states are fleeing, but a fair number of them, maybe a majority, haven’t learned anything from the failed jurisdictions they are leaving.  Some tout a political separation as the solution; read that as “secession,” or the splitting of the country along political lines.  But I don’t see that happening, largely because the only way that would work would be to establish leftist city-states that would largely be awash in a sea of red suburbs, exurbs and rural communities, and I don’t think that’s workable.  Add to that the fact that the left would never agree to such a split, not if they want to keep eating.  Food and energy production, in such a scenario, would hang over those blue city’s heads like Damocles’s sword, and I suspect at some point the Left will figure that out.

The current situation can’t continue, though.  Our major cities are already well on their way to collapse.  I’d argue that some – Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore – are already in the process of collapse.  And maybe that’s the answer; the solution that Ayn Rand foresaw.  Let the leftist-run areas collapse.  Creative destruction, if you will.  It will be ugly, very, very ugly, for a time; but if cooler heads prevail in the end, something worthwhile may just arise from the ashes.