The Great Sort Continues

Americans are sorting themselves into red and blue states. To be fair, though, the sort is mostly a one-way street: millions are leaving failing blue states and flocking to Florida, Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, South Dakota, etc.

As this realignment of population continues, states seem to be doubling down. California and New York edge farther to the left, while in Minnesota, my state, Democrats are proposing to increase personal income taxes to the second highest rate in the nation, thus driving the state further into irrelevance. But that is a minority trend. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Statehouses across the country are continuing to cut taxes in a movement that shows no sign of slowing down. By year-end, nearly half of all states will have cut their income-tax rates within a three-year period. The good results so far confirm that we’re in a virtuous economic-political cycle.

At least six states have kicked off their 2023 legislative sessions with income-tax cut proposals. Newly inaugurated Governors in Arkansas and Nebraska campaigned on rate cuts and are asking legislators to follow through. Leaders in Virginia and Montana want to cut rates modestly with bipartisan support. Large GOP majorities in West Virginia and Utah are considering significant cuts after hesitating last year.

Each of these states has at least one neighbor where tax rates have dropped recently, and competition is sustaining the trend.

Many conservatives have worried that red states’ success could be their undoing. Maybe the New Yorkers and Californians streaming into Florida and Texas will bring blue politics with them. But that doesn’t seem to be happening:

“We’re trying to run up that score in voter registration,” [Christian Ziegler, vice chair of the Republican Party of Florida] said, explaining that there were 250,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in Florida when DeSantis first took office in 2018.

Now, there are more than 300,000 more Republicans than Democrats in Florida.

“So we’ve had this massive swing,” he said.

Ziegler provided another stunning data point, noting that one million net new people have moved to the state and registered to vote since DeSantis first took office.

Out of a million, about half a million have registered as Republican, and only 17,000 have registered as Democrats. So we’re just obliterating the Democrats,” he said.

“I did not believe it. I had to go back and redo the numbers because I just couldn’t believe it, but it ends up being true,” he added.

If the Great Sort continues, and America comes to consist mostly of hard-core red and blue states, with a diminishing number of purple battlegrounds, the possibility of disunion will become real. As I have said many times, the alternative to disunion is a rebirth of federalism. The days when New York and California could dictate policy to Texas and Florida (and many other states) are gone. If the blue states want to drive off a cliff, we may not be able to stop them. But the rest of us are not going along for the ride.

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