Data From U-Haul Shows Where People Are Moving; What Are the Presidential Election Consequences?

Voting
By Eric Sinrod on April 30, 2019 6:00 AM

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.

The United States is a country where people often pick up their roots and plant them elsewhere for various reasons -- employment opportunities, the weather, pleasure, or to be closer (or farther) from family and friends. At times, we might wonder about general trends in terms of where people are going. Most of what we know is anecdotal in nature. But now, we have data from U-Haul, a major American moving company. And what are the political implications of people on the move in the U.S.?

U-Haul fairly recently listed its top U.S. moving destinations compiled from two million one-way rental contracts from approximately 21,000 places across the country. So, where are people going? Drumroll please ...

The top five states for incoming moves according to U-Haul's data are Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Utah, and Idaho. Interestingly, all five of these states went for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential election. Is this good news for the President next time around in 2020? While Trump won some of those states, like Idaho, handily, Florida always tends to be a jump ball. Will an increase in population in Florida help the President? Of course, it depends on the political affiliation and leanings of the incoming residents.

Which states saw the most moves away from them based on U-Haul's data? California, Illinois, and Michigan saw the most departures. California and Illinois tend to be reliable Democrat states in Presidential elections, while Michigan can be an important battleground state. Again, does this bode well for the President with people leaving these states? The answer once more is that it depends on the political orientation of those leaving, and it depends on where they end up. For example, if people who vote Democrat leave Michigan and go to a state where they are far outnumbered by Republicans, that very well could help the President during the 2020 election.

At the meta level, it is clear that the U-Haul data shows that people are leaving blue states and are heading to red states. However, it is important to note the more granular aspects of the U-Haul data. For example, at the city level, five of the top ten cities for incoming moves were Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Kissimmee, FL, Harrisburg, PA, Grand Rapids, MI, and Madison, WI, all off which went the opposite way as their states in the 2016 Presidential election. Trump barely won Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin in 2016. A real increase in Democrat numbers in the aforementioned cities could tilt these states away from Trump in 2020.

So, while the U-Haul data is interesting simply from a demographic standpoint, it could potentially foreshadow how voting trends might differ in 2020 from 2016; we just don't know those trends yet, as we do not know the political leanings of the people who are on the move.

Eric Sinrod (@EricSinrod on Twitter) is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please email him at ejsinrod@duanemorris.com with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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