Issues & Insights
A moving truck, yet another sign of the blue state/red state schism. Photo: By Wjmoore17 at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain (

The Great Divorce? 2.6 Million Fled Counties That Voted For Biden

Is the country separating itself into two distinct camps? One increasingly leftist and the other trying desperately to cling to traditional American values? Census data seem to show that it very well could be underway.

Last week, we commented on recent population data showing that people have been fleeing urban areas, noting that these are mostly Democratically controlled, and we pointed out that people have also been moving from blue states to red.

But we wanted to go deeper and get more precise numbers. So, we matched Census net migration data from mid-2020 through mid-2022 for all the nation’s 3,000-plus counties (or their equivalents) and compared that with how these counties voted in 2020. Our working assumption is that the results of the incredibly divisive 2020 election would be a good barometer of the devoutly held political views in those counties. 

What we found was striking: There has been a vast migration out of counties that voted for Joe Biden into those counties that voted to reelect Donald Trump.

Census data show a net internal migration of almost 2.6 million (2,562,937 to be exact) from blue counties to red since Biden was elected. (These figures don’t count immigrants or births or deaths, just those Americans moving from one location to another.)

More than 61% of the counties that voted for Biden in 2020 lost population, while 65% of Trump-supporting counties gained population.

Some highlights:

  • Of the 555 counties Biden won, 335 (or 61%) lost population due to internal migration, our analysis found. Of the 2,589 counties that Trump won, 1,675 (or 65%) gained population.
  • Two Biden-voting counties that lost the most from net migration were Los Angeles County, which was down 363,760, and Cook County, Illinois, down 200,718. While many of the blue counties that lost population were urbanized, the exodus was widespread and nationwide, including many far more sparsely populated liberal areas.
  • In contrast, the biggest loss in any red county was Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, down just 18,470.
  • In 13 states that had a net loss of population, red counties nevertheless showed gains. In California, which saw a massive net outflow of 871,127 people in just the past two years, counties that backed Trump had a net gain of 8,412. New Jersey suffered a loss of 107,749 over the past two years, but counties in the Garden State that voted for Trump gained 22,507. Michigan lost 43,188 overall, but its red counties had a net gain of 28,091.
  • On the other hand, blue counties lost population in states that saw overall gains. For example, Florida had a net gain of 622,476 over the past two years. But counties that backed Biden nevertheless lost 3,374. Georgia had a large gain of 128,089, but blue counties still had a net loss of 28,178. Tennessee saw an increase of 146,403 people, but counties that voted for Biden saw a decline of 37,306.
Source: Census Vintage 2022 data, 2020 election returns. I&I Chart
Source: Census Vintage 2022 data, 2020 election returns. I&I Chart
  • In other states, people escaping blue counties accounted for almost all their population losses. In Illinois, for example, 91% of the state’s 282,048 net population loss came from counties that voted for Biden. Ditto in New York, where blue counties accounted for 96% of the state’s 664,921 outflow.
  • In growth states, most of those moving in settled in red counties. In Texas, for example, the state’s more conservative counties accounted for 91% of its net population influx.
  • The biggest red-county population winners were Collin County, Texas, north of Dallas, up 69,301, and Lee County, Florida, which is on the Gulf side of the state and includes Fort Myers, up 62,246.
  • The biggest gainers for Biden-supporting counties were Maricopa County, Arizona, home to Phoenix (up 94,684), and Williamson County, Texas, north of Austin (up 52,970).

A Warning, And An Opportunity

The gains in Maricopa and Williamson counties are two exceptions that prove the rule – and provide a warning.

Maricopa’s population increases are coming mostly from nearby California, as people break away from the one-party leftist state for a place with lower taxes, better schools, more jobs, and safer living conditions. Texas’ Williamson County is directly north of uber-liberal Travis County, home to Austin.

Here’s the warning.

The population shifts have turned those two reliably red counties blue.

Until 2020, neither county had supported a Democrat since Harry Truman ran in 1948.

Hillary Clinton took just 44.8% of the vote in Maricopa County in 2016. Biden got 50.1%. Trump’s vote share in Williamson County dropped from 50.9% in 2016 to 48.15% in 2020.

These findings raise important questions that must be confronted:

Will this mass migration lead to an even more divided country, with people increasingly relocating to be with their ideological brethren?

Will it mean that, as in those Arizona and Texas counties, Democrats take over more areas that had been traditionally conservative as they ditch the disasters their own policies produced?

Or will this migration out of leftist enclaves lead to a weakening of the undue influence a few elitist urban areas have on national politics?

We hope for the latter. But that will happen only if these American migrants understand why they are moving and can be convinced to leave their failed politics behind.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

CORRECTION: This editorial originally listed Worcester County, Md., as having lost 17,545 people to net migration over the past two years. It actually gained 2,120. It was Baltimore City that lost 17,545. The nationwide migration number has been corrected as well.

See Also

We Could Use Your Help

Issues & Insights was founded by seasoned journalists of the IBD Editorials page. Our mission is to provide timely, fact-based reporting and deeply informed analysis on the news of the day -- without fear or favor.

We’re doing this on a voluntary basis because we believe in a free press, and because we aren't afraid to tell the truth, even if it means being targeted by the left. Revenue from ads on the site help, but your support will truly make a difference in keeping our mission going. If you like what you see, feel free to visit our Donations Page by clicking here. And be sure to tell your friends!

You can also subscribe to I&I: It's free!

Just enter your email address below to get started.


I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • The part about the liberals moving into conservative areas and taking over IS the problem with a divorce. Libs will subject state constituents to their nonsense. Secession solves this problem because the newly freed states will be better able to restrict borders and will be able to enact new state constitutions which can restrict liberal encroachment.

  • I think there is a typo in the 2nd paragraph where it states “people have also been moving from red states to blue.”

    I think you meant to say the opposite.

    Sadly, the way it is written completely negates the entire point of the article.

  • This article is ancient now, but sheds a little light on what’s happening, without having anything really to do with it (it’s also an interesting read):

    It’s a story about a primitive computer simulation of a neighborhood, with only one parameter: in every square of 9 houses, people are happy to live with others who are different from themselves; but, they would like just one other neighbor who is the same. So these are “tolerant” bots, but they would like just one friendly neighbor.

    As the simulation runs, the neighborhoods always segregate.

    • Re your point on the following two counties.

      According to Wikipedia Jefferson Parish includes part of New Orleans. New Orleans red?

      And Worcester County experienced nearly 50% growth since 2000.

      What an I missing?

      “In contrast, the biggest loss in any red county was Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, down just 18,470, followed by Worcester County, Maryland, which is in the southern part of the state, down only 17,545.”

      • Jefferson Parish is the parish next to New Orleans. New Orleans is in Orleans Parish. Jefferson Parish is definitely a “red” parish like the majority of parishes. The blue pockets of La. are located in NOLA, Baton Rouge and Shreveport.

  • The ongoing “divorce”, people “voting with their feet” leads to a conclusion somewhere down the road.
    Who will write the record of this if it is, as said in Matthew 12:25, “But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”.

  • There can’t be a divorce. The Democrats won’t settle for less than the house, their alimony and the children.

  • Check your date for Worcester County, MD… I see them going up from 52,511 in 2020 to 53,866 in 2022. A loss of a third of their population would have been noticed.

    • Thank you for pointing that out. We made a transpositional error in Maryland, and as a result, had Baltimore City’s data where Worcester County’s should have been. Net migration into Worcester County was 2,120. That’s been corrected.

  • Might want to wait until Kari Lake finishes her signature matching in Maricopa County until making your conclusions on THAT one. Also there are 8,000 provisional ballots still to be counted in the AZ atty general race whereas the prematurely annointed Dem AG only “won” that race by under 1000 votes. Say what you will, these election integrity questions are NOT going away until honest clarity is attained.

  • What appears not to be considered by the writer is the possibility that the immigrants will end up adulterating the political circumstance that existed prior to their coming. Maricopa and Williamson Counties as examples. Democrats flee the Titanic where they formerly lived and without connecting cause and effect they arrive carrying their curse with them.

  • My suspicion is that people moved out of Jefferson Parish, LA, not because of political issues but because it was hard-hit by Hurricane Ida in 2021. I do not have time to research this but hope the authors can check it.

  • There is legitimate concern that Blue migrants will adulterate Red communities. But the voter registration results in Florida over the past 3 years, where there has been a HUGE increase in the R-over-D numbers, contradict that concern.

    Think of all the people who will NEVER leave California for Red states (and why):
    — Government employees (because the benefits and pensions are much more generous in CA)
    — Welfare recipients (same reason)
    — Illegal aliens (because there will never be any immigration enforcement in California)
    — Criminals (because they are mollycoddled in California)
    — Teachers union members (I know, a subset of government employees, but their pensions and benefits are also insane)

    If we remove all these people from the potential emigration pool, the remainder looks much more reasonable.

  • As a resident of a red state, I am highly concerned that the blue staters are moving here and will vote the way that used to, bringing their destructive policies with them, without understanding what they are doing.

    • You write: “I am highly concerned that the blue staters are moving here and will vote the way that used to, bringing their destructive policies with them, without understanding what they are doing.” My edit: “I am highly concerned that the blue staters are moving here and will vote the way that used to, bringing their destructive policies with them, without “caring” what they are doing.”

About Issues & Insights

Issues & Insights is run by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. Our goal is to bring our decades of combined journalism experience to help readers understand the top issues of the day. We’re doing this on a voluntary basis, because we believe the nation needs the kind of cogent, rational, data-driven, fact-based commentary that we can provide. 

We Could Use Your Help

Help us fight for honesty in journalism and against the tyranny of the left. Issues & Insights is published by the editors of what once was Investor's Business Daily's award-winning opinion pages. If you like what you see, leave a donation by clicking on donate button above. You can also set up regular donations if you like. Ad revenue helps, but your support will truly make a difference. (Please note that we are not set up as a charitable organization, so donations aren't tax deductible.) Thank you!