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Realtor.com Red Versus Blue Report: Blue State Americans Are Searching For Homes In Swing States; What Does That Mean For The Presidential Election?

October 08 2020

Americans are migrating from Democratic urban areas to more affordable suburbs and rural areas that lean Republican. But will they turn any red states blue?

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Oct. 6, 2020 -- The ongoing trend of Americans migrating from densely populated typically Democratic urban areas to more affordable suburbs and rural areas that historically lean more Republican could potentially have an impact on the outcome of the upcoming presidential election, according to a new analysis released today by realtor.com®. The report reveals that the majority of out of town searches for homes in the battleground states of Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin come from states and counties that lean blue.

The analysis examines the searches of home shoppers on realtor.com® looking outside their local market over the last three years. For the purpose of this study, the analysis assumes the political affiliation of the home searchers is proportional to the distribution of their county of origin during the 2016 presidential election. It does not account for changes in political affiliation, other factors that may cause someone to shift their allegiances, or the migration of renters, who tend to move more frequently.

"For years homebuyers have looked from urban areas to more suburban and rural areas to find the affordability that makes buying a home possible. The additional time at home and flexibility to work remotely as a result of the pandemic have further fueled this trend," said realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale. "Although many factors will ultimately influence voting decisions, what we may learn in just a little over a month is whether these shoppers ended up changing the results in the states they moved into, or not. We know a number of blue staters' interest in swing state moves; but we just don't know how many of them actually did move, and whether they themselves vote Democratic or Republican."

According to the analysis, which examined all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the majority of out of town searches for homes in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- four of the 13 identified by a Politico analysis as battleground states -- are coming from states and counties that lean blue. These search patterns also indicate that, with the exception of Georgia, the 30 states that went red in 2016 may be impacted one way or another by blue staters moving in. At the same time, eight blue states and the District of Columbia are seeing an influx of people from states that are red.

"A critical question - as blue staters move to swing or red states, are they Democratic voters seeking out a more suburban or rural lifestyle, or are they Republican voters wanting to move out of a more Democratic neighborhood or do their political opinions shift as they move to areas that have traditionally supported Republican candidates? We may know how to better answer these questions, once the votes are counted," said Hale.

Out of state searches in the four potential swing states

Florida

(Red in 2016 and considered a toss up state in the upcoming election by Politico)

  • Realtor.com® analysis: The biggest share of non-local home searches in Florida are coming from Georgia (a red state in 2016) followed by New York, New Jersey, Illinois and California, all blue states in 2016.
  • At the county level, the highest share of non-local searches in the state come from all blue counties -- Dekalb County, Ga., Cook County, Ill., Fulton County, Ga., New York County, N.Y. and Essex County, N.Y.

Michigan

(Red in 2016 and considered to be leaning blue in the upcoming election by Politico)

  • Realtor.com® analysis: The biggest share of non-local home searches in Michigan are coming from Ohio, Illinois, California, Georgia and Florida.
  • Although only two of the top viewing states are blue, the highest share of non-local searches are from blue counties -- Cook County, Ill., Summit County, Ohio, Dekalb County, Ga., Cuyahoga County, Ohio and Franklin County, Ohio.

Pennsylvania

(Red in 2016 and considered to be leaning slightly blue in the upcoming election by Politico)

  • Realtor.com® analysis: The biggest share of non-local home searches in Pennsylvania are coming from New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio and Virginia. Of these five states, only Ohio was red in 2016.
  • At the county level, the highest share of non-local searches in the state come from all blue counties, Washington, D.C., New York County, N.Y., Essex County, N.J., Kings County, N.Y. and Montgomery County, Md.

Wisconsin

(Red in 2016 and considered to be a toss up in the upcoming election by Politico)

  • Realtor.com® analysis: The biggest share of non-local home searches in Wisconsin are coming from Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Iowa and California, three of which (Illinois, Minnesota and California are blue states).
  • At the county level, four of the five highest share of non-local searches in the state come from blue counties -- Cook County, Ill., Lake County, Ill., Hennepin County, Minn. and Bucks County, Pa. The exception is McHenry County, Ill.

Editor's note: This analysis is not a prediction of the outcome of the election. Whether these home searches benefit either political party depends on factors that cannot be accurately measured: first, realtor.com® does not have data on how many of these searches actually resulted in a move to a new market, though these searches have historically correlated well with migration patterns; and second, there is no way to determine the political leanings or party affiliation of those who do cross-market searches and/or ultimately move.

About realtor.com®

Realtor.com® makes buying, selling and living in homes easier and more rewarding for everyone. Realtor.com® pioneered the world of digital real estate 20 years ago, and today through its website and mobile apps is a trusted source for the information, tools and professional expertise that help people move confidently through every step of their home journey. Using proprietary data science and machine learning technology, realtor.com® pairs buyers and sellers with local agents in their market, helping take the guesswork out of buying and selling a home. For professionals, realtor.com® is a trusted provider of consumer connections and branding solutions that help them succeed in today's on-demand world. Realtor.com® is operated by News Corp [Nasdaq: NWS, NWSA] [ASX: NWS, NWSLV] subsidiary Move, Inc. under a perpetual license from the National Association of REALTORS®. For more information, visit realtor.com.