Georgia Democratic U.S. Sens. Raphael Warnock, left, and Jon Ossoff leave a Democratic Caucus leadership meeting at the Capitol on Dec. 8, 2022. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

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Gordon L. Weil formerly wrote for the Washington Post and other newspapers, served on the U.S. Senate and EU staffs, headed Maine state agencies and was a Harpswell selectman.

People from the blue states are flooding into the red states.

That may be the impression left by alarmist   reports of people leaving Democratic states in the North for Republican states in the South and West.

If true, that could mean growth in the population supporting Trump Republicanism and the decline of liberal Democratic states. To make sure that the blue state migrants don’t infect red states, the ever-zany GOP U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene suggests they should   not be allowed to vote in their new home states for the first five years.

While the facts show that Republican-controlled states are growing faster than the traditionally Democratic states, don’t jump to the conclusion that those gains will benefit the GOP. In fact, the reverse might be true.

Why are people on the move? Nobody knows for sure, but there is little evidence that politics are driving the migration. The reasons may include warmer weather and lower taxes. Weather is undoubtedly an attraction. Taxes may be a factor but probably not the main reason for most people deciding to move.

Both low corporate taxes and pro-business labor laws attract   business investment and create jobs. People move to new offices and factories.

But part of the   GOP mantra these days is that the people moving south are fleeing the high crime rate in northern cities. This claim implies that Republicans do a better job fighting crime than the Democrats.

The major problem with this assertion is that it is false. The crime rate in northern states under Democratic control is lower than the rate in the destination states. “The Northeast is the region with the lowest crime rates [for violent and property crimes],”   according to USAFacts. These are all Democratic states. States in the South and West rank the highest.

Republicans make much of Democratic California’s population loss, supposedly due in part to the   attraction of conservative Republican Texas. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis offers his Republican state with its millions of migrants as the   model for America.

The GOP is closely linked to small town America. In   Maine, it does better in rural countries than in urban areas. Predominantly rural states like Maine are rare. The   census shows that people are leaving rural areas for the cities.        

Northern movers to red states do not settle in the rural and most conservative parts of those states. The fact that the cities where people move are Democratic hardly discourages people from moving. They head for the cities, and influence the voting behavior there.

There’s an old political saying that when people move from the North to the South, both areas become more liberal. It’s possible that migrants from the North bring their moderate political views with them and they aren’t washed out in five years.

Look at Atlanta,   Georgia. That state has been reliably Republican since Democrat Jimmy Carter, its native son, was president. But, in 2020, it voted for Democrat Joe Biden for president and later gave both of its U.S. Senate seats to Democrats. The main reason was the influx of new voters into Atlanta, not a sudden change of heart in traditional, rural GOP areas.

The same appears to be true in Phoenix,   Arizona. The state had settled into being reliably Republican but now has a Democratic governor and two U.S. senators who align with the Democrats. As in Georgia, Biden’s narrow win over Donald Trump led to loud but unsubstantiated claims of vote rigging in the Democrat’s favor.

Migrants could be helping turn red states to blue. Austin, Texas, Raleigh, North Carolina, and Orlando, Florida, are the   fastest growing big American cities, and all have Democratic mayors. So does huge Houston, Texas.

This trend matters, because these states could swing presidential elections. While Biden carried counties with   67 million more people than Trump in 2020, they were concentrated in fewer states. California and New York will still vote Democratic even after an exodus but the people who move elsewhere could help tip the presidential electoral vote away from the GOP.

The political logjam that has given the GOP the power to veto change is likely to break only if the Democrats win more elections even by narrow margins rather than winning fewer elections by larger margins.

The Republicans focus on   making it more difficult for Democratic voters to cast their ballots. Apparently, they hope to preserve minority rule. But demographics may be working against them. The migrants who bring their politics with them might one day simply outnumber the old-line GOP. It may now be beginning in Georgia and Arizona, and it might soon happen in Texas.

The population shift is neither party’s clever political plan. Instead, the people are literally voting with their feet. Watch where they go and what they do when they get there.

Gordon L. Weil formerly wrote for the Washington Post and other newspapers, served on the U.S. Senate and EU staffs, headed Maine state agencies and was a Harpswell selectman.