How to find a place to move in the US where my Dem vote will count.
December 24, 2017 1:05 AM   Subscribe

I love where I live but the rent is too damn high and my liberal vote doesn't count. Where can I find a list of areas I could move to where I could actually make a difference with my vote?

I'd like to do this before the 2018 elections. It's easy to find info on which states are swing, but getting more granular down to the county level is proving more difficult. Am I missing a resource that lists this info?

If you don't know of a resource, but want to suggest an area (again, more specific than just state would be helpful) here's a bit more about me:

* I'm lucky enough to be able to work from anywhere I can get reliable internet.
* I live in, and love, the Bay Area. This pretty much means that anywhere I move to will be a decrease in cost of living, and therefore a plus.
* I cannot imagine not living in a city. I know that makes it very hard, because cities are typically Dem anyway. Maybe at least somewhere that's near a city, but in a different county so not totally blue?
* Moderate weather would be great. I hate shoveling snow. I melt in 100° weather. I mean, if have to, I'll put up with extreme weather, but I'd love not to have to.

Thanks for any resources or ideas.
posted by greermahoney to Society & Culture (27 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
There are a few Texas cities like what you describe. For example, Travis county - which is where Austin is located - was pretty solidly blue in the 2016 presidential election, but Hays county to the south was about 50/50. Fort Worth and Corpus Christi were also close to blue. However, they do all have pretty hot summers.
posted by neushoorn at 1:44 AM on December 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

Fine level of detail is by district, not county. Found many results with maps searching on Ohio. Should be similar map based results for the other states. I used this search:
Ohio 2016 presidential election results by district

Also search on 'pivotal' district. These don't consistently vote red or blue.
posted by Homer42 at 2:02 AM on December 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

You want to work for some good Democrat causes in a state with some blue islands in a sea of red? Come see Kentucky! We've got Louisville and Lexington, and we need all the help we can get.
posted by deezil at 5:00 AM on December 24, 2017 [7 favorites]

It's not entirely true that your vote doesn't count: Why turnout matters, even in true-blue districts: Large margins of victory make politicians more responsive to progressive goals.

You've made your desire doubly hard with a request for moderate weather, since that's mostly produced by the ocean's moderating effect on temperature. Hmm. Would Orange County or North San Diego work for you?
posted by clawsoon at 5:16 AM on December 24, 2017 [8 favorites]

Here is a list from the DCCC of the 59 districts they're targeting to flip in 2018. With a bit of work, you could put some pins for those districts on weather and population maps and find your ideal district.
posted by clawsoon at 5:23 AM on December 24, 2017 [9 favorites]

The Research Triangle of NC spans quite a few counties, and some of them are red. But you'd also be next to heavily blue counties which could be a plus for you. Because I think living in a blue outskirt of any red county might be an important consideration for when you start to get culture shock moving anywhere red from the Bay Area. College towns in general are like this.
posted by velveeta underground at 5:26 AM on December 24, 2017 [7 favorites]

Here is the same DCCC list, but with links to more information about each district.
posted by clawsoon at 5:27 AM on December 24, 2017 [6 favorites]

NJ 11 is a close-in suburb of NYC. I have friends who live in Montclair and like it. On the other hand, it’s pricey, and my sense is that the overwhelming vibe is families with kids.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:32 AM on December 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Albuquerque area is somewhat conservatively Democrat. In November's municipal election, we got a Democratic supermajority (6 out of 9). But there are Republican pockets around the city and state.

New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District is now held by a Republican and includes part of Albuquerque. Sandoval County is conservative but is part of our 3rd Congressional District, which is held by a Democrat.

Albuquerque has about the most moderate weather that you can get away from the coasts. This site says each year we have:
* 280 days of sunshine.
* 13 inches of snow (but I can tell you it often melts within a day)
* July high temperature of about 90 degrees.

If you are interested, I can get you more-specific information about districts.
posted by maurreen at 6:33 AM on December 24, 2017 [6 favorites]

In my district in Orlando (Florida's 7th) Stephanie Murphy (D) won a House seat pretty narrowly last election against longtime Republican incumbent John Mica. I can't say the weather is super mild all year, but it's a pretty nice city that has a lot more going for it than the theme parks it's known for. :) And Florida more generally is a huge swing state. If you're willing to volunteer with a campaign here in addition to turning out, you could do a lot of good from here at every level of government.
posted by Gymnopedist at 6:50 AM on December 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

As a heads up, Austin is not really urban. It's sort of like Sunnyvale in terms of urban-ness, but with some added cultural institutions.

That said, Texas is not a terrible idea from a "changing politics" standpoint. Texas is rapidly becoming actually flippable while being seemingly being ignored by the DNC, meaning it could happen if the powers that be actually bothered investing in it. Of course, that means actually living in Texas and putting up with the absurd state politics.
posted by hoyland at 6:51 AM on December 24, 2017 [8 favorites]

Yes! I wish more people would ask this question.

Oklahoma's hot in the summer but mild in the winter and could use more blue votes. Cost of living is good. The liberal community is very active and there are a *lot* of ways to make a difference.

If you are also looking for a place where you can make a difference - I used to live in a blue city with far more resources, and I was involved in volunteer work but generally felt that what I did was, for the most part, redundant. Here, I have had the opportunity to be a leader on projects that I knew would not happen without my help, and that I know made a difference for people.
posted by bunderful at 7:28 AM on December 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

Come to OH-12, in Columbus, which is overall blue. But thanks to gerrymandering, we could use help replacing this corrupt guy. In 2018, you’ll also get to vote against this terrible guy and you can help us with our governor. If you stay long enough, you can help get rid of this coward, too.
posted by kittydelsol at 7:56 AM on December 24, 2017 [10 favorites]

+1 for kittydelsol's response. We're in a fairly progressive city but governed by some pretty gross dudes. The gerrymandering issue is real but getting more attention now. Additionally, our police force needs a LOT of reform. And we get Sherrod Brown to help us sleep at night!
posted by PaulaSchultz at 8:44 AM on December 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

If you're concerned about state politics negatively affecting you, there are some red districts in California that we need to flip. My vote would be for the 4th district - you could live in the foothills of the Sierras not too far from Sacramento.
posted by Jaclyn at 9:37 AM on December 24, 2017 [9 favorites]

Yes, the Sierra Foothills, 4th district, it you didn’t want to go too far. There are democrats doing work here, and only a few hours out of San Francisco, so you can get your bigger city needs met there.
posted by Vaike at 9:44 AM on December 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Kevin McCarthy was elected in Bakersfield. So it is hot here for a few months, but otherwise it is nice. I have wild parrots in my neighborhood.
posted by Oyéah at 11:18 AM on December 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm not gonna lie, one of the reasons I applied to UC Irvine (among others) for grad school is because I want to unseat Mimi Walters. Orange County's not such a bad place these days. It's certainly not the cultural wasteland that my parents grew up in. I guess that's one of the side benefits of gentrification in L.A. - a lot of interesting people get shoved out into formerly uncool suburbs.

Irvine itself is not a great place to save money, but I know people enjoying life in, say, Tustin. And that's still in the 45th district.
posted by desert outpost at 12:05 PM on December 24, 2017 [5 favorites]

Starting with House races, take a look at the various resources rating the midterms (for example, Cook Political Report, NYMag, and 270 to Win) and zero in on those that look to be most competitive. From there, you can narrow it down to areas that are both close enough to major cities and (relatively) temperate. Based on those criteria, I'd consider CA-25, CA-48, CA-49, CO-6, FL-26, VA-10, or WA-8.

Also in 2018, California, Colorado, and Florida will have open governor's races (Dems incumbent in California and Colorado; GOP incumbent in Florida), plus Florida's senate race (currently held by a Dem) looks to be competitive. And of course, looking ahead to 2020, Colorado, Florida, and Virginia are presidential swing states.

So... for the absolute maximum bang for your voting buck, I'd say you’re looking at FL-26, followed by CO-6. Based on everything else you say, my hunch is that you would enjoy living in suburban Denver much more than south Florida.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 12:29 PM on December 24, 2017 [4 favorites]

As someone who moved from a very liberal area to a tiny blue dot in a sea of red, I want to say two things: first, your intentions are very good and, two, it's likely going to be a frustrating reality. I was in your shoes many years ago. I would not do it again and am looking to move back to a bigger, more progressive area. While you will surely find many things you love about your new home, you will also experience culture shock. I don't know if this applies to you but dating, regardless of sexual orientation, can be difficult because options are limited; it's surprising how many of the viewpoints and interests you take for granted in the Bay Area are actually more rare in many of these places, sadly. Eleven years of living here and I'm proud to say that I was part of the change that turned my swing state blue. In fact, it is one of the places listed by previous commenters but I'd like to keep my specific location more private; however, you're welcome to MeMail me if you're interested. When you do decide on a place, visit coffee shops and other community hangouts in potential neighborhoods and ask people for their very, very honest opinion of the area. Good luck!
posted by smorgasbord at 12:33 PM on December 24, 2017 [7 favorites]

Idaho is now the fastest growing state in the Union, please god let them be Democrats, and a woman who is a Democrat and a member of the Coeur d'Alene tribe is running for governor. Come to Idaho and make history by voting in the first Native American governor! (I believe she will be the first, have not fact checked that.)
Paulette Jordan
posted by 17.5002 at 2:00 PM on December 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

The return of the thin white sock - one of my best friends lives 15 mins outside CO-6, that just got bumped up to a high contender. Thank you.
posted by greermahoney at 2:01 PM on December 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Why not just make a short move east to Stockton and help vote out Jeff Denham?
posted by salvia at 3:13 PM on December 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I went to college in Stockton and I'd never lived in such a diverse place. I heard the city's mayor on Pod Save America recently and he sounded great. So if you decide to stay in California, that might well be a fine place.

You don't mention this in your question, but when I moved away from the Bay Area several years ago, it was tough to make new friends. So if you can move closer to friends and/or family (that you like), you should do it. Social support matters and starting from scratch is hard for most of us. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 11:14 PM on December 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Not only will your vote count in one of CA’s many swing districts, but there is an army of people who want to defeat Walters, Issa, and Knight (I mean, look at this great candidate who will (knock wood) take down Knight). Bonus: It’s going to be a great way to meet people.

Check out Swing Left for info on swing districts and on how you can get involved.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:04 AM on December 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Great map at Swing Left. Thank you, persona!

I’m going to mark as resolved. Thanks, all! Mefites are the best fites!
posted by greermahoney at 7:24 AM on December 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

California's congressional district 21 lets you live in Fresno or Bakersfield -- two hardcore tough-love cities -- and lets you vote against David Valadao, who is Kevin McCarthy's and Devin Nunes's little goon. The district voted for Obama and Clinton in 2012 and 2016. Emilio Huerta is running against Valadao in 2018 and his victory would be delicious.

That said, donate $100 to any Democrat in any congressional district and you will get five Democratic voters driven to the polls, which far exceeds the impact of you moving. (Of course, you can do both.)
posted by mississippi at 1:24 PM on December 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

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