Western states are turning purple, and migrating Californians might be to blame, says a Los Angeles Times opinion piece today. West Coasters who can’t afford the rent are resettling in once-dependable GOP territories like Colorado, Nevada, and Wyoming, and they’re bringing their liberal views with them:
“The interior West is filling up with migrants from the Golden State. Picture a bucket of blue paint on the coast overflowing and spilling east.
The trend is so pronounced that demographer William Frey says Arizona and Nevada ‘are essentially now becoming appendages of California.’ Nevada stands out in particular, with 18% of its residents (as of the 2000 census) having been born in California. In Arizona, the number is 8%. The other Mountain states post some impressive numbers too: 9% of Idaho, 7% of Utah, 6% of Colorado and 5% of Montana. In New Mexico, where Bush won in 2004 by about 6,000 votes, 79,000 ex-Californians lived there as of 2000.”
Author Ryan Sager believes the influx of Californians is opening doors for Democrats in the West. He cites as evidence the 2004 election in Colorado of a Democratic legislature and of the Salazar brothers.
In the past, Republicans have gotten by on their ability to push Americans’ cultural hot buttons and on voters’ distrust of the Democrats when it comes to national security. But those kinds of appeals are going to be less and less effective in an interior West made up more and more by skeptical Californians.
Driving to the polls every election day may be satisfying to California’s liberal and libertarian-leaning voters. But it’s the folks who drive a state or two over and stay who will eventually force the Republican Party to choose between tipping over on its West-South axis and finding a more socially tolerant, fiscally responsible alternative.