Study: More ‘Blue State’ Americans Searching for Homes in Swing States

October 6, 2020

Americans are leaving largely Democratic urban areas to search for affordability in the suburbs and rural areas that tend to skew Republican, a new analysis from realtor.com® shows. For example, the majority of out-of-town searches for homes in key battleground states—such as Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are coming from states and counties that tend to lean blue, the report says.

Realtor.com®’s analysis examines the searches of home shoppers on its site in the past three years that are looking outside their local market. Realtor.com® notes that the analysis is not a prediction of the outcome of the upcoming presidential election. Realtor.com® also points out that an assumption in the analysis is that the political affiliation of home searchers compares to that of their county of origin during the 2016 presidential election.

“For years, home buyers have looked from urban areas to more suburban and rural areas to find the affordability that makes buying a home possible,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com®’s chief economist. “The additional time at home and flexibility to work remotely as a result of the pandemic have further fueled this trend. Although many factors will ultimately influence voting decisions, what we may learn in just a little over a month is whether these shoppers end up changing the results in the states they moved into, or not. We know a number of blue staters’ interest in swing-state moves; but we just don’t know how many of them actually did move, and whether they themselves vote Democratic or Republican.”

Realtor.com® highlights the following findings from state searches in four potential swing states in the upcoming presidential election:

Florida: Red in 2016

The largest share of nonlocal home searches in Florida are coming from Georgia (a red state in 2016), followed by New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and California (all blue states in 2016), according to realtor.com®. At the county level, the highest share of nonlocal searches in the state came from blue counties: Dekalb County, Ga.; Cook County, Ill.; Fulton County, Ga.; New York County, N.Y.; and Essex County, N.Y.

Michigan: Red in 2016

The largest share of nonlocal home searches in Michigan are coming from Ohio, Illinois, California, Georgia, and Florida, according to the realtor.com® analysis. Only two of the top viewing states are blue, but by county level, the highest share of nonlocal searches are from mostly blue counties: Cook County, Ill.; Summit County, Ohio; Dekalb County, Ga.; Cuyahoga County, Ohio; and Franklin County, Ohio.

Pennsylvania: Red in 2016

The largest share of nonlocal home searches are coming from New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, and Virginia (only Ohio was red in 2016). By the county level, the highest share of nonlocal searches in the state are coming from traditionally blue counties: Washington, D.C.; New York County, N.Y.; Essex County, N.J.; Kings County, N.Y.; and Montgomery County, Md.

Wisconsin: Red in 2016

The largest share of nonlocal home searches are coming from Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and California. (Illinois, Minnesota, and California were blue states in the last election.) By the county level, four of the five largest shares of nonlocal searches in the state are coming from blue counties: Cook County, Ill.; Lake County, Ill.; Hennepin County, Minn.; and Bucks County, Pa. McHenry County, Ill., was the lone exception.

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