According to a recent Chicago Tribune editorial published by this newspaper, people are moving to states where ideologies are better matched to their own, posing a problem for our democracy (“Another View: Americans are moving to other states as they sort themselves by ideology,” July 17).

This is unmitigated nonsense, not to be confused with ordinary nonsense. The source of this expressed concern – Illinois – makes sense; it is one of the states reporting the largest net exodus of residents.

Using myself as a small sample of one, I can tell you why I and so many others have packed up and moved out of states such as California, Illinois, New York and New Jersey. The reason is “economics,” or more precisely, “personal economics.”

While the utopian initiatives of the progressive left sound good to the masses, when the bill for them arrives in the mailbox, individuals will vote with their feet.

I moved to Maine 11 years ago, escaping New Jersey’s crushing property taxes and its aptly named state income tax (the New Jersey Gross Income Tax, my emphasis on “gross”). Little has changed in my life: As was the case in New Jersey, I am comforted by the periodic passing of the police car past my house; we have a modern fire department facility in Wells, and I like what I see graduating from the local school systems.

In short, I enjoy the same government services and the same level of these services that I received in my former state.


When I moved to Wells, I neither downsized nor went upscale, purchasing a home that was, after renovation, roughly equivalent to what I had left behind. The cost was about two-thirds of what I sold my previous home for, allowing me to put some cash into the bank, but, even better, my property tax bill dropped by about 80%.

Unfortunately, Maine is now moving in the wrong direction.

According to the Tax Foundation, the average state and local tax burden in Maine was 12.4% of income in 2022. Currently, this places Maine in the 10th-highest rank among the 50 states, with New York comfortably in the top spot at 15.9%. Contrast these figures with neighboring New Hampshire at 9.6%.

Contrary to the published Tribune opinion, we are not seeing Republicans fleeing to Republican states for ideological reasons. Note that Texans have expressed concerns about what the influx of Californians might do to their very red state. What seems to escape the editorial writer is that the states showing the strongest economic growth, especially in the post-pandemic period, have mostly been run by Republicans. People are leaving for opportunity and economic survival.

For example, in March 2022, 17 states reported record-low unemployment rates, with a median rate of 2.8%. Of those states, 13 had a Republican in the governor’s mansion, and, of those 17 states, only one state legislative chamber was controlled by a Democratic majority. The average unemployment rate for states with Republican governors was 3.2% that month. States with Democratic governors reported a rate of 4.1%.

These are the numbers that matter to people. States such as Illinois, California, New York and New Jersey are not necessarily seeing their Republican voters fleeing. Rather, it’s states such as Texas and Florida, with vibrant economies and comparatively low tax burdens, that are creating new Republicans.

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