(WATCH) The Big Sort

There’s a growing trend of people self-sorting where they live based on their political and social views. The Big Sort is happening across the country, as Lisa Fletcher reports. 

Ginny Becker spent a good part of her summer with her kids, packing up the family home in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Ginny’s husband Billy was born and raised in this area. They’ve been here together for more than 20 years.

But in the aftermath of Covid, they started to feel like this area was no longer home.

Ginny Becker: I thought, we can stay here and try to fight for what we want and talk to as many people as we can, or we can leave.

The Beckers are going more than 700 miles, leaving a deep blue suburb of Washington, D.C., for conservative Florida on the coast near Jacksonville, and politics is a big part of the reason.

Becker: All of a sudden, these friendships that you thought you had — were conditional friendships. And that was hurtful.

Lisa: Was there something else that was subtly being communicated to you through friends backing away, through the way you were being treated by the schools, that said we don’t trust you as a parent?

Becker: I got the feeling that because I was just a mom, I didn’t have a voice. I didn’t have a right to speak up, and my opinion didn’t matter.

Decisions like the Beckers to move to somewhere they feel more politically aligned are becoming more common. Political scientist James Gimpel, at the University of Maryland, is looking at the trends.

Lisa: Does the data bear out that people are moving because of their political ideologies?

Gimpel: I see that it’s happening more and more. Political considerations are figuring into the mix of criteria that people use in selecting a destination.

Lisa: Politics used to be confined primarily to the ballot box, and now it has really seeped into every aspect of our life.

Gimpel: Politics now informs, or is now closely associated with, very common consumption decisions — including consumption about housing.

Experts believe the trend accelerated during Covid, in part because workers had the chance to work from home, spend more time in their neighborhood, and for many, that prompted a decision to move.

Texas drew much of the attention and new political immigrants as southern Californians left one of the most expensive places to live in America — and a Democratic stronghold — for the Lone Star state.

Lisa: As we see people gravitating to certain areas, and communities or states becoming redder or bluer, do you see us heading into an era where entire states are really controlled by one party?

Gimpel: It’s going to be pretty gradual because the volume of migration isn’t high enough to change an entire state, particularly the very large states. Texas has on its voter file over 15 million people, and so, to change Texas, you need a very high volume of in-migration from California, and the levels aren’t there yet.

Becker: It was hard to separate the people from the policies, and it was a very divisive time for us.

And it is that idea of having to conform with your neighbors that weighed heavily on Ginny Becker and her family as they were thinking about moving.

Becker: I hate the idea of leaving or giving up. I’m not really thinking of it as giving up. But when you realize that you’re not able to make a difference or move the needle enough, then I think it’s time to go.

And the Becker family now call Florida, and their red state roots, home sweet home.

For Full Measure, I’m Lisa Fletcher.

Watch story here.

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7 thoughts on “(WATCH) The Big Sort”

  1. Lived in Montgomery Co, MD for 22 years and never felt I was listened to, had a voice, and had to pay outrageous taxes for that privilege. Picked up and moved a year ago to Texas and have never been happier. Kids in schools where there is no masking, CRT and other insane craziness. My paycheck is now much better without MD taxes/fees/fines and no private school to avoid MCPS woeness. My wife and I looked at each other while casting our first ballots here in Texas and said, “finally, our vote counts”.

  2. It’s not surprising that Americans are moving from Democrat controlled areas. High taxes, high crime rates, drugs, the sexualization of children, poverty, etc. Who would want to live in those conditions, much less raise their kids there?

    I hope the red states work to keep liberals from infiltrating them and ruining those states also.

  3. It’s the Curley Effect- democrats drive out non-democrats with crummy non-productive policies on purpose so they can have one-party control over those who remain.

    ‘Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.’

  4. This has been “underground” for years, just ask the moving companies and truck rental outfits.
    We are seeing the beginnings of two countries within one geographical area. America is “Europeanizing”.

  5. Fled Maryland decades ago largely because it was a bossy nanny State. Moved to a conservative part of Pennsylvania, however since the Philly/Pittsburgh vote manufacturing facilities has twice stolen a major election it might be time to consider options.

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