Electing Themselves a New Population


Ted Nesi beat me to an initial review of the latest Census estimates showing what changed in states’ populations in 2015, compared with 2014:

Net migration to Rhode Island was slightly positive in 2015, as the net arrival of 4,727 international migrants was nearly offset by the net departure of 4,693 domestic residents. There were also 10,984 births and 9,533 deaths in the state during the 12 months ended July 1.

Focus in on those migrant numbers.  What that means is that more people who were in Rhode Island last year left for other states than people in other states chose to take up residence in Rhode Island.  When it comes to crossing national borders to and from Rhode Island, the picture is almost exactly the reverse.  This is nothing new, although the disparity increased this year.  Here are the last five years of data as a percentage of the prior year’s population:



Every year for the past five, Rhode Island has displaced nearly a half-percent of its resident population with people from other countries.  That means the total differential is close to a full percent of the population, adding up to five percent in the above chart.  Think of it in terms of voters:  If everybody in the blue columns could have been expected to vote in a certain way on a particular ballot question and everybody in the red columns votes the other way, each vote counts once but changing or replacing a vote creates a two-vote change.

One begins to see why folks in state government — whatever they may say when the microphones are on — have done precious little to repair the many flaws that leave Rhode Island not competitive with pretty much any state in the nation.  Independent-minded Rhode Islanders may leave the state, but officials can opt for policies that replace them with others more likely to require government services.  As long as officials can rig the political system to collect money from taxpayers and the federal government, increasing their number of clients remains more important than increasing payers.

In the long run — or even the not-so-long run — the strategy is doomed, but at some point it becomes locked in, because too much of the population has been displaced for it to become plausible that voters will reverse course.  Rhode Island may have passed that point already.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    It has been political wisdom for generations that every “international” immigrant has a Democrat inside waiting to get out. The only exception I know of is the Cubans. They favored Republicans because they believed that Kennedy let them down at the Bay of Pigs. Don’t know about recent Cuban immigrants.

    • ShannonEntropy

      Florida is now permanently Blue … thanks in large part to the Cuban immigrant community


      Recall my prediction that simple Electoral College math shows that we will never again have a Repub POTUS

      • Tommy Cranston

        Only if Permanently Blue is defined as every statewide office and 2/3 of the legislature being Republican.

        • ShannonEntropy

          I was referring to POTUS voting

          Once a State starts voting blue ,, they never turn back. So OH & FL join States like California — the state that gave us Nixon & Reagan but that is now and forever Blue

          Now toss in NY , PA , CO , NV and all six NE States … and you’ve the electoral votes needed to put the extra-wide Pant Suit in the White House

          • Mike678

            Never say never….

  • Mike678

    Supposition is nice, but it must not be confused with fact. Of the ~5K leaving, what were their demographics/income? Middle class? Pensioners? Of the ~5K immigrants, what % have entered the work force? Are receiving aid? Once these numbers are available, and if your suspicions are verified, it may be possible to predict when the once great state of RI will hit the wall.

    I agree that it’s more a when and not if we hit the wall. It’s too easy for the Dems to be the juvenile in the room–to give everyone what they think they want and pretend that there are no consequences. The adults that point to the consequences are the bad guys–and get boo’ed off the stage as the party goes on. The story of the Ant and the Grasshopper comes to mind.

    • OceanStateCurrent

      I’ve done the work on those leaving, and it’s what I’ve called the “productive class” — basically, the young-to-middle-aged adults building families and careers who have the greatest motivation to turn their time into productive activity. As to those coming, it’s a bit more difficult, and it’s a sticky situation, because key connections have to be made by way of race and ethnicity. However, it is pretty clear that we’re talking urban Hispanics, and they do tend to utilize more services, in general. As to whether they enter the workforce, well, our workforce has continued on a pretty steady decline since the recession.

      As a note for perspective, though, I’d offer the reminder that this is a blog post. If somebody were to provide funding for such a study to the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, we might be able to answer very specific questions, but as it is, I’ve got to build the case by whittling away at the suppositions over time, in small strokes.