Home searches reveal swing states may be turning blue

Swing states that voted for President Trump in 2016 have become so attractive to city dwellers since the last presidential election that it could tip some of their electoral votes toward former vice president Joe Biden in the 2020 election, according to a Realtor.com analysis of 2017-2020 home searches and 2016 geographical voting data. Home searches have historically been an accurate indicator of U.S. migration patterns.

“People are looking for affordability, and that’s driving a lot of home searchers in urban areas to more rural areas,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com. “It’s interesting when you look through the lens of how people in those areas have traditionally voted. Urban areas are traditionally blue, and affordable areas are traditionally red.”

The analysis found that Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — which voted for President Trump in 2016 — could vote for Democratic candidate Biden during the 2020 election due to the influx of migration from Democratic-leaning counties in Georgia and Ohio, plus the blue states of New York, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Maryland, Minnesota and Virginia. Biden was leading in each of the swing states identified by Realtor.com as of October 6, according to the most recent polls

But it’s not just swing states that are drawing city-dwelling Democrats — all 30 states that voted Republican in 2016, except Georgia, had an influx of Democrat voters during Trump’s term, including the swing states of Iowa, North Carolina and Ohio, though not enough to tip voting patterns, according to Realtor.com.

“In Wyoming, 68% of voters in 2016 voted Republican. We are seeing an inflow of more people from blue states moving to Wyoming, so it could also be trending bluer, but with a 68% victory in the last election, it’s not a state we think incoming residents could change the outcome of,” said Hale.

For years, Republican states have become increasingly attractive for their business-friendly laws and affordable housing prices — especially for young people, who once drove demand for city centers but have aged into prime homebuying ages over the past five years. Only 14% of homebuyers ages 30 to 39, purchased a home in an urban or central city, with most opting for suburban or small-town homes, according to the 2020 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report by the National Association of Realtors, which reflected pre-COVID-19 pandemic buying and selling preferences.

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