Home buyers searching for affordable markets may be changing the political landscape. A new Realtor.com analysis shows that blue state home buyers are searching for new homes in red states. It’s unclear if these search results represent actual migrations, but they could indicate a shift in voter preferences for several important swing states. And that could have an impact on the upcoming presidential election.
“Red Versus Blue Report”
Realtor.com just released the results of its “Red Versus Blue Report.” (1) It uses search data to identify where Americans are living now as they search for new homes, and the places they are checking out. The trend is that many more Americans in left-leaning urban areas are trying to find cheaper places to live in right-leaning markets. And it shows that most of the out-of-town blue state search results are for the battleground states of Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
The analysis stretches back three years, and assumes that current political affiliations coincide with the proportion of right-left votes in the 2016 election. It’s not an accurate measurement however because there’s no way to know the actual political affiliation of the home shoppers or whether they have actually bought homes and moved to the search result locations.
But there has been a surge of people moving away from dense urban areas in search of affordable single-family homes. The pandemic has driven people to want a more comfortable home environment, with a place to work remotely, and a yard for the kids and dogs to play. First-time home buyers have also been driven to smaller markets where they can afford to buy a home. Job losses from the pandemic are driving people to more affordable places, as well. There are many reasons for the shifts we are seeing now, and much of it is happening just months ahead of a presidential election.
According to Realtor.com’s 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’ (showed) interest in (moving to swing states); but we just don’t know how many of them actually did move, and whether they themselves vote Democratic or Republican.”
Red Swing States Could Turn Blue
The analysis covered all 50 states and the District of Columbia, but as I mentioned, most of the blue state search results were targeting markets in the swing states of Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Those are four of thirteen battleground states identified by Politico. The results also show that 29 of 30 states that voted “red” in 2016, may be impacted by newcomers from states and counties that are identified as “blue.” Georgia is the only exception.
Hale questions whether the blue state home shoppers are Democratic voters looking for a more suburban or rural lifestyle, Republican voters wanting to move out of a more Democratic neighborhood, or voters with political opinions that shift as they move. She says, we probably won’t know the answer to that question until all the votes are counted.
As for the reverse, more of the search results targeting eight blue states and the District of Columbia are coming from red states. Realtor.com doesn’t offer this information as a forecast on the election, because the data doesn’t offer an accurate gauge of voter affiliation. We’ll have to wait a few more weeks to see what happens.
Stop by newsforinvestors.com to learn more about buying rental properties in some of the affordable markets that people are moving to.