Friday, October 31, 2008

Voting with one's feet

I was looking at the 2004 presidential election results, and remembering all the chatter about Democrats moving to Canada or France in its aftermath.

And I was struck that, Free State Project notwithstanding, I've never heard any real discussion in the U.S. of people deliberately moving to another state to affect political outcomes.

In 2004, California and New York alone had about two and a half million extra (surplus, Electoral-College-wasted) votes for Kerry. About 10,000 more Democratic votes in Iowa and 4,000 in New Mexico would have switched the election. Of the total Democratic voters in California and New York, it would have taken about one out of ten thousand relocating for a few months to switch things. How many (silly exaggeration ahead) Hollywood liberals complete with their entourages and hangers-on and staffs would have had to relocate to Iowa for three months to pull it off? Real estate in Des Moines can't be that expensive for short-term rentals...

I know, I know-- elections are dynamic. If the tactic had been noticed and gotten away with, Texas had 1.7 million surplus Republicans it could ship around, too-- or the Bush campaign could have moved around spending on campaign commercials when they saw Iowa tightening (if the newcomers let themselves get polled). It's an expensive, cumbersome attempt to switch votes, when there are very fluid and fast-responding ways to do so sitting in a campaign's bank account. But... after two successive misseditbythatmuch Electoral College elections, why did we see no equivalent of the Free State Project even trying to get some reverse-migration from California and New York to Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire? The Canadian immigration websites apparently spiked at over 100,000 hits per day for a little while after the 2004 election-- and while vanishingly close to none of those people did anything about it, why no spike in "Iowa rel estate" hits instead?

[Note: I'm not very good with the humor and the funny; this is meant to be silly, not a serious proposal for anyone to take any action of any sort. Just a few paragraphs out of a floating early-morning thought.]