They're Coming to Arizona

Posted on May 04, 2005
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It's no surprise that so-called "red states" are gaining in population. Even in blue states, the fastest growing pockets are suburbs that vote predominantly Republican. As Brookings Institution demographer Dr. William Frey puts it, "It's the New America. It's taking population and political clout from the highly urbanized Old America." Indeed, of the 10 fastest growing states (all in the West and South according to Census Bureau classifications), President Bush won nine in the last election.

New York Times columnist John Tierney gets to the heart of this trend, which one could sum up in the bastardized campaign slogan "It's the middle class, stupid!" Tierney says, "middle-class Americans don't simply cast ballots for Republicans. They also vote with their feet, which is why blue states and old Democratic cities are losing population to red states and Republican exurbs. People are moving there precisely because of economic reasons - more jobs, affordable houses and the lower taxes."

In this way, Phoenix is emblematic, providing a refuge for high-taxed, regulation-laden exiles from neighboring California as well as the Midwest and Northeast. This is the finding of national urban expert Joel Kotkin in the recent study Phoenix Rising: A City of Aspiration, also summarized in part in this Arizona Republic column. As a result of this massive in-migration, Phoenix has managed to reluctantly maintain many of the characteristics that initially draw people here. But, Kotkin notes, Phoenix risks marring its attractiveness by engaging in the kind of "creative class" pandering manifest in the current downtown development obsession.

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