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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Sunbelt Surge Challenges Dems

Here’s a surprising statistic from a recent U.S. Census report, which has significant implications for Democratic electoral strategy and immigration policy. Of the 25 fastest-growing cities in the nation, 24 are located in the sunbelt (sole exception: Joliet City IL). Even more striking, few of the top 258 cities are not in the sunbelt. It appears that time is not on the side of the “northeastern strategy.”
The tremendous influx of Hispanics into sunbelt states is a large part of the story, recounted here and elsewhere. But it also appears that African American “reverse migration” back to the south is another phenomenon of increasing interest to Democrats. New York City, for example, had 30,000 fewer African American residents in 2004 than in 2000. An estimated 70 percent “left the region altogether” and most of them went south, according to Democratic Underground.com.
And, as William Frey of the Brookings Institution reports:

Hispanic and Asian populations are spreading out from their traditional metropolitan centers, while the shift of blacks toward the South is accelerating…Fully 56 percent of the nation’s blacks now reside in the South, a region that has garnered 72 percent of the increase in that group’s population since 2000.

Strategy-wise, reasonable Democrats can disagree about whether or not Democratic presidential candidates should invest significant time, money and effort in winning southern electoral votes in this cycle. By ’12, however, the argument should be over.

3 comments on “Sunbelt Surge Challenges Dems

  1. RonK Seattle on

    The chameleon effect doesn’t mean much on short hops — within the same jurisdiction, media market or subcultural milieu — but most movers are still good Democratic prospects, and even when they move short distances for short times, we lose them and lose msot of what we know about them.
    Even on short hops a new lunch room, new radio station or new ballot will have influence on those who are less than fully-formed politically, which is to say, most movers.

  2. janinsanfran on

    In reference to RonK’s comment: do we know that movers take on the political coloration of their new surroundings more than they change it?
    One of the ways I understand Jerry McNerney knocking off Richard Pombo in 2006 is that the district had had a major influx of people from the very Democratic core Bay Area who were gradually changing the conservative Central Valley culture that had been the norm.

  3. RonK Seattle on

    However Democrats count states, we had better learn to track and cultivate movers.
    Large fractions of movers are “natural Democrats” – young (or old), unestablished (or divesting), and moving from blue turf.
    No matter. Unless the mover is intensely political to begin with, he/she will tend to take on the political coloration of their new surroundings.
    The current balance of movement doesn’t just inflate red states; it induces a population-scale red shift.
    It’s also a place where individuals fall off our microtargeting radar (such as it is), as if they’d died in one place and been reincarnated someplace else.
    Needed: a national Movers Project, with local affiliates.


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