Americans are voting with their feet and the results are in: red states are winning.

An incredible 46 million people moved to a new ZIP code over the year to February 2022, the highest annual total since Equifax, a credit agency, began tracking moves in 2010. Republican-leaning red states gained the most residents — led by Florida, Texas, and North Carolina — while the blue states of California, New York, and Illinois were the biggest migratory losers. The most popular pandemic-era moves were from New York to Florida and California to Texas — so much so...

Americans are voting with their feet and the results are in: red states are winning.

An incredible 46 million people moved to a new ZIP code over the year to February 2022, the highest annual total since Equifax, a credit agency, began tracking moves in 2010. Republican-leaning red states gained the most residents — led by Florida, Texas, and North Carolina — while the blue states of California, New York, and Illinois were the biggest migratory losers. The most popular pandemic-era moves were from New York to Florida and California to Texas — so much so that U-Haul ran out of moving trucks leaving California last year.

Given the chance to flee high-cost cities, Millennials did so in droves. Superstar metros like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago were the hardest hit by pandemic-era outmigration, according to Moody’s, and Americans ages 25 to 34 years old made up the largest share of movers. And where did they go? As the pandemic wore on, they migrated to lower-cost, fast-growing hubs with a high quality of life, such as Atlanta, Dallas, and Phoenix.

Suddenly, Americans weren’t packing up the moving truck because they had to for a job, but because they wanted to. “Remote work allowed many workers to move to Red States, not because of political preferences, but for financial and lifestyle reasons—cheaper housing, better weather, less traffic, and lower taxes,” as the Wall Street Journal recently explained. They also enjoyed fewer pandemic-related restrictions, such as the school closures that set back a generation of students in Democrat-leaning jurisdictions. Crucially, Americans could live where they wanted without sacrificing opportunity — indeed, because they had a better future elsewhere.

Red states now have more people at work than before the pandemic as they recover faster economically than their blue state peers. Tennessee enjoyed the highest inflation-adjusted GDP growth in America last year while the state’s unemployment sank to an all-time low. Democrat-run states, by contrast, have collectively lost roughly 1.3 million jobs since the start of the pandemic more than two and a half years ago. Moody’s Back to Normal Index shows eight out of ten states at the bottom for their economy, jobs, retail sales, and home listings are all deep blue.

Companies are now leaving blue states too. It’s not just Tesla leaving California now, but hedge-fund titan Citadel leaving J.B. Pritzker’s Illinois for Ron DeSantis’s Florida and blue-collar Caterpillar decamping to Texas. Seattle-based Amazon now splits its headquarters between Virginia and Tennessee. Investment in new manufacturing facilities is up an astonishing 116 percent in the last year alone to the benefit of states like Texas, Alabama, and Arkansas.

For years, blue states could tax and spend while their streets and schools went to hell without fear of mass outmigration for the simple reason that they’d struck gold in the modern economy. The technology and finance industries created vast amounts of wealth in places like the Bay Area and Boston, and then rewarded their talented residents with access to highly exclusive shares and homes. Bad policies barely mattered when you could pay to ignore them. Indeed, the only strange thing about this whole affair was that there was no gold rush into these states, because who else could afford a chance to live in California?

There’s a reason why California is shrinking in population for the first time in its history, or why voters in San Francisco recently kicked out their progressive district attorney and much of their school board. Turns out there’s only so much woke-washed incompetence people can stand when their American Dream is dead. And, crucially, when they have a choice in how to vote and where to live. No number of TV commercials can persuade parents that their children have a better future in Gavin Newsom’s California than Ron DeSantis’s Florida.

But red states shouldn’t take their present success for granted. After all, states like California and New York were once working-class havens. In 1970, the average California teacher earned $74,000 in today’s dollars, while the typical home went for just $177,000. The same zoning rules that block young families from affording a starter home or licensing hurdles that make it harder for high-school graduates to take up welding jobs exist in blue and red states alike. After the pandemic era’s run-up in prices and interest rates, the annual income needed to buy a home in Tampa rose nearly 50 percent over this past year, while incomes rose just 5.6 percent nationwide. And red states still have their share of blue cities pulling from the same progressive playbook as San Francisco’s tin-pot dictators.

States should compete to win new Americans. If they can do it for big corporations, they can do it for hardworking families. Cities should fight to maintain their competitive edge too. After all, there’s a finite share of Americans willing to buy multi-million-dollar homes for the privilege of sitting in Austin’s I-35 traffic. And, no, New York, mounds of garbage on the sidewalk are not merely the price you pay to live in the “greatest city on earth.”

Tennessee’s motto is “America at its best,” as it should be for every state, red and blue alike.