New Data Shows Red Wave Washing Into Idaho

A Seattle Times column captures the highly partisan in-migration to the Northwest’s conservative outpost.

The decline in Oregon’s population last year was big news for a state that has added new residents for decades, and now a new report from one of Oregonians’ favorite destinations reveals more about the political leanings of those who are leaving.

Josh Lehner, one of Oregon’s state economists, writes frequently about demographics and has been paying particularly close attention to domestic migration. That’s because Oregon has long depended on newcomers for economic growth. Like some other states, Oregon is experiencing more deaths than births, which means without more people moving here than are leaving, the state’s population will shrink. In 2022, Oregon saw a population decline for only the second time in two generations.

WW explored that exodus in a cover story this year.

Related: They Left: Portland is Losing Some Its Biggest Fans

As Lehner has written, U.S. census data provides a wealth of information about who’s coming and going. Data from the Internal Revenue Service shows where people are coming from and moving to and how much they earn—but neither data set reports the political affiliation of those who move.

Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat has now filled in some information about Idaho, where the population is booming, thanks to an inflow from nearby states. Westneat drew on newly released voter registration data that shows the new Idahoans are overwhelmingly Republican.

“Of about 119,000 voters who relocated to Idaho in recent years, 65% signed up as Republican. That’s significantly higher than the partisan makeup of the state already, which is 58% GOP,” Westneat writes. “Only 12% of the newcomers registered as Democrats.”

Of the Oregonians who moved to Idaho in recent years (the Idaho data doesn’t specify exactly when), more than two-thirds registered with the GOP in their new home.

“This is the ‘big sort,’” proven,” Westneat writes. “It’s long been known that the U.S. is separating into silos, driven mostly by vocation (such as Big Tech clustering on the coasts), by age or education (young college grads flocking to cities) or by affordability... This latest data suggests, though, that which team you’re on politically is now itself a driving force behind at least some of the sorting.”

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