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The mass migration of Californians to the Southwestern states of Arizona and Nevada since 2020 has led to a surge in the share of nonaffiliated voters in those states — which may stand to benefit Democrats, according to a report released Thursday by Redfin.
In several key states, the Democratic party has lost more registered voters than the Republican party since 2020, but those states have gained Independent voters who typically lean Democrat, the report reads. The voter registration trends in these states are partly due to the wave of the COVID-19 pandemic-driven relocation, with many remote workers moving in search of affordable houses, low-interest rates and like-minded communities.
Redfin data shows that Arizona and Nevada were the second and third most popular states respectively for people moving away from California in 2020, with Los Angeles the most popular origin for people moving to both Phoenix and Las Vegas. The typical home in Phoenix and Las Vegas costs less than $450,000, approximately half of the median sale price of $840,000 in Los Angeles.
“Pandemic-fueled migration has changed the political makeup of several key swing states,” Redfin Deputy Chief Economist Taylor Marr said in a statement. “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.”
Registered Democrats now make up 33 percent of Nevada’s voters where they made up 37 percent in 2020, according to the new analysis. Republicans now make up 29 percent of registered voters in the state, down from 31 percent in 2020. Meanwhile, the share of voters whose affiliation is listed as “other” went up from 31 to 37 percent between 2020 and 2022.
The same trend was observed in Arizona but at a less dramatic rate. Democrats make up 31 percent of all voters in the state, down from 32 percent in 2020. And 35% percent of voters are registered Republicans, the same as was recorded in 2020, while “other” voters make up 35 percent, up from 33 percent in 2020.
The trend could stand to benefit Democrats in next week’s midterm congressional elections as Independent voters tend to sway left. Fifty-four percent of Independents nationwide voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 election, according to Redfin.
Though any potential benefit to Democrats could be offset by relocators’ tendency to “self-sort” and move to places where people largely share their 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.”
Forty-six percent of respondents to an October Redfin survey answered that they would feel hesitant about moving to an area where the majority of residents had political leanings other than their own.
The effects of self-sorting can be observed in Florida, according to the report, where Republicans are favored to win the upcoming midterm elections in the longtime swing state. The Sunshine State attracted a large number of conservatives since 2020, with Republicans making up 36 percent of Florida’s voters, unchanged from 2020, while Democrats make up 34 percent — down from 37 percent in 2020.