Many Americans who were pushed out of pricey California moved to Nevada or Arizona in search of more affordable housing, perhaps registering as unaffiliated with a major party in the process. On the other side of the country, Florida pulled in many conservative people looking to live near others with similar views.
(NASDAQ: RDFN) —The Democratic party has lost more registered voters than the Republican party since 2020 in several states key to the upcoming Senate midterms–but those states have gained Independent voters, who typically lean Democrat. This is according to a new analysis from Redfin (redfin.com), the technology-powered real estate brokerage, which looked at changes in voter registration data in six swing states over the last two years: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
States’ voter registration trends are partly due to the wave of pandemic-driven relocation, with many remote workers moving from one metro to another in search of affordable home prices and/or a likeminded community–and bringing their political views with them.
“Pandemic-fueled migration has changed the political makeup of several key swing states,” said Redfin Deputy Chief Economist Taylor Marr. “Hot-button issues like the economy and crime are playing a big part in this year’s elections, making its outcome difficult to predict. But changes in voter registration, which are largely due to new residents who moved in from other places, offer one clue about how certain states will vote. The uptick in registered Democrats in Arizona and Nevada ahead of the 2020 election, due largely to people moving in from California, helped predict that President Biden would win those states.”
Increase in Independent voters in Nevada and Arizona could reflect liberals pushed out of expensive California
Registered Democrats have lost ground in Nevada, but Independents have gained ground. Democrats make up 33% of Nevada’s registered voters, down from 37% in 2020. Republicans make up 29%, down from 32%–a slightly smaller drop. But Nevada has seen an uptick in voters registered as “other” (unaffiliated with a major political party). “Other” voters make up a plurality (37%) of Nevada’s registered voters, up from 31% in 2020.
The trend is less extreme in Arizona, where Democrats make up 31% of all registered voters, down slightly from 32% in 2020. Republicans have held steady at 35%. “Others” make up 35% of Arizona’s registered voters, up from 33% in 2020. Note that shares in this report are rounded to the nearest whole number.
Those increases could benefit Democrats because Independent voters–who make up a significant portion of “others”–are more likely to lean left: 54% of Independents nationwide voted for Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 election, while 41% voted for Republican Donald Trump. Independent voters are unlikely to take much share away from Democrats or Republicans because while a growing share of Americans identify as Independents, most vote in line with one of the major parties.
The uptick in “other” voters likely reflects many of the residents who recently moved into Nevada and Arizona from more liberal places, including newly remote workers. Arizona and Nevada were the second and third most popular states for people moving away from California in 2020. And Redfin’s migration data shows that Los Angeles was the most popular origin for homebuyers moving to both Phoenix and Las Vegas. The typical home in both Las Vegas and Phoenix costs less than $450,000, roughly half of Los Angeles’ $840,000 median sale price.
The share of California voters registered as “other” has fallen by 0.4 percentage points since 2020, a bigger percentage-point decline than Democratic and Republican registrations, suggesting that some of the people who left California are “others.”
But some of Nevada and Arizona’s new residents are conservative people sorting themselves
The points in Democrats’ favor could be offset by some people moving to areas that better match their existing political views.
“Americans often sort themselves into neighborhoods where people share similar views, which could help explain why Republicans lost fewer voters than Democrats in Nevada and Arizona,” Marr said. “Some of the people who left California for those states were probably frustrated by local responses to the pandemic, in addition to expensive homes and high taxes, and ready to move somewhere more conservative.”
The share of California voters registered as Republican has dropped 0.3 percentage points since 2020, a slightly smaller percentage drop than “others,” while the share of registered Democrats has increased 0.8 percentage points.
Nearly half (46%) of U.S. residents would feel hesitant about moving to an area where most residents have different political views from their own, according to an October Redfin survey.
Migration and self-sorting have contributed to Florida becoming more Republican
Self-sorting is likely one reason why the Senate race in Florida, traditionally a swing state, is leaning heavily toward the Republican candidate. Registered Republicans surpassed registered Democrats there last year for the first time in history, largely due to migration. Republicans make up 36% of Florida’s registered voters, unchanged from 2020, while Democrats make up 34%, down from 37% in 2020.
The Sunshine State is pulling in right-leaning people from liberal parts of the country who want to live somewhere that better matches their political viewpoints. Miami and Tampa are two of the most popular destinations for relocating homebuyers, and liberal New York and Washington, D.C. are among the most common origins for people moving in.
Pennsylvania’s stability in “other” registrations is evidence that its rise in Arizona and Nevada may come from new residents
Pennsylvania, another state with a tight Senate race, has seen its share of registered Democrats decline slightly since 2020, falling from 47% to 46%. Republicans have held steady at 39% of registered voters and “others” have held steady at 15%.
Pennsylvania isn’t a hot migration destination–in fact, more people left the state than moved in last year. Because it doesn’t attract many new residents from out of state, voter registration trends in Pennsylvania provide a valuable comparison to those in Nevada and Arizona. Its share of registered Democrats has declined without a corresponding increase in registered “others,” one sign that the uptick in “others” in states like Arizona and Nevada is partly due to new residents.
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