The Great American Exodus: A Conservative's Perspective

During his keynote speech on September 11 at the National Conservatism Conference in Miami, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis describes the demographic shifts in America since he became governor in 2019 in what he calls the 'Great American Exodus.'

3 minute read

September 27, 2022, 12:00 PM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

Miami and Key Biscayne

pisaphotography / Shutterstock

If you do an internet search for “Ron DeSantis + Migration,”  you'll find pages of articles centering on Martha's Vineyard, the Massachusetts island where Florida's first term Republican governor sent two planes carrying about 50 Venezuelan immigrants from Texas without advance notice on September 14. What you won't find is the governor's keynote speech on September 11 to the 3-day National Conservatism Conference held in Miami.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board annotated a 5-minute video based on the one hour keynote by Gov. DeSantis to “more than 1,000 attendees over its three-day run, the most ever,” wrote Jesse Scheckner for Florida Politics who reported on the conference on September 12.

Wall Street Journal

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, he said, 'there’s been more adjusted income moved into the state of Florida than has ever moved into any one state in a similar time period' in American history,” reported Jarrett Stepman for The Daily Signal, a conservative news platform operated by The Heritage Foundation, on the event.

DeSantis pointed to the contrast with states “hemorrhaging” wealth and people, such as California, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey. 

Wall Street Journal opinion columnist, Daniel Henninger, awarded DeSantis a ‘hit’ on the closing segment of  the “Journal Editorial Report” on Fox News on September 18. “My hit goes to Gov. Ron DeSantis who gave a speech this week to a conference of conservatives in which he identified something he called the great American exodus,” said Henninger.

“He's talking about the movement of population from blue states like California, Illinois, New York and New Jersey into the red states in the West and South like Arizona, Texas and Florida. He cited Florida's low taxes.”

“I've written about this migration before and I have to give Gov. DeSantis credit for identifying what could be a major historical population movement in the U.S.”

As to the effect of the massive domestic migration on Florida's voting roles, DeSantis was quick to take credit for the change, reported Scheckner of Florida Politics.

“He discussed Florida’s surge in registered Republican voters, noting that when he won the governorship in 2018 that there were close to 300,000 more registered Democrats in Florida than Republicans.”

“The latest numbers, he said, show registered GOP voters outnumber Democratic voters by a 271,000-person margin. (The state elections website shows Republicans with a roughly 231,000-voter lead.)”

By no means is it a new phenomenon. Almost a decade ago, a Wall Street Journal op-ed (posted here) observed the domestic migration pattern of blue-to-red governed states, attributing it largely to the states' economic policies.

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