Thomas Gallatin / December 12, 2022

Did the Blue State Exodus Kill the Red Wave?

A Leftmedia outlet says Dems moving out of lockdown states is the reason the red wave failed to materialize. That theory has some holes in it.

In a recent article for Politico titled “How Demographic Shifts Fueled by Covid Delivered Midterm Wins for Democrats,” George Mason University immigration and demographics expert Justin Gest argued that Democrat voters fled Democrat-controlled states during the COVID pandemic thanks to their draconian lockdowns and then voted Democrat in their new states, preventing the widely anticipated red wave in the midterm elections.

“Data from the U.S. Postal Service and Census Bureau shows how the pandemic drove urban professionals who were able to work remotely — disproportionately Democrats — out of coastal, progressive cities to seek more space or recreational amenities in the nation’s suburbs and Sun Belt,” Gest says. “This moved liberals out of electoral districts where Democrats reliably won by large margins into many purple regions that had the potential to swing with just small changes to the map.”

Gest contends that the newly created redistricting maps failed to account for this influx of blue state voters, leading to an unexpected advantage for Democrats in Republican-controlled states. He pointed to Arizona as evidence in support of his theory.

It is indeed ironic that Gest tacitly admits that blue state Democrats handled the pandemic so abysmally, especially economically speaking, that they chased out the very voters who put them into power in the first place. What’s harder to swallow, however, is Gest’s assumption that these blue state voters are so dense that despite the fact that they fled Democrat-run hellholes, they continued to vote in the same manner that created those leftist cesspools in the first place.

It’s an interesting theory and it certainly happens in some cases, but Gest conveniently fails to observe several other states that saw a high influx of new residents from blue states while still experiencing what amounted to a red wave. Florida, Tennessee, and Texas all got redder after receiving blue state refugees.

For the past several election cycles, the mainstream media’s narrative on both Florida and Texas has been that these two highly populated states were increasingly on the verge of becoming purple — that Democrats were gaining ground — and it was only a matter of time before they would become full-fledged swing states. Well, the midterms just blew up that narrative. In fact, for the first time in its history, Florida now has more registered Republican voters than Democrats, and both Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Marco Rubio won with nearly 60% of the vote.

But the red wave didn’t just show up in the South. In New York, Republicans had stunning success picking up four House seats and in the process unseated five-time incumbent Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee head Sean Maloney. While New York is still nowhere near becoming a swing state, Republicans’ success in the Empire State put Democrats on notice. Interestingly, Gest doesn’t attempt to account for this in his election theory.

The fact of the matter is that the quality of the candidates more than anything else goes toward explaining why in certain states the red wave never materialized. In Pennsylvania, Mehmet Oz was a terrible candidate for the Republicans. In Georgia, Herschel Walker had too much controversial baggage to win over voters — the same voters who clearly had no problem casting their ballots for Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who easily defeated Democrat challenger Stacey Abrams.

The biggest lesson from these midterms for Republicans is to choose better-quality candidates who best represent the values of their constituents in those races they failed to win. A close second lesson is to establish a better ground game, doing more to get their voters to actually cast a ballot. These things represent the path forward for the GOP to handle whatever demographic shifts happen along the way.

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