Old and busted: Escape from New York. New hotness: Escape from New Jersey

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Earlier this month we looked at a new poll showing that an ever-larger number of residents of New York City agreed with the statement that their families would be better off if they permanently left Gotham. Interestingly, at least a few of the respondents suggested that they were considering moving to New Jersey for the presumably lower crime rates and cost of living while still having easy access to the Big Apple’s businesses and entertainment options. It turns out that they may soon have more real estate vacancies to take advantage of in the Garden State because a follow-up Monmouth poll of New Jersey residents showed that a majority of them would like to leave also. (NY Post)

Garden State residents are heading for the exits.

A record 59% of New Jersey residents said they want to leave their state at some point, a Monmouth University poll released Monday finds.

That’s six to ten percentage points higher than in prior polls when Jersey residents were asked the same question from 2007 to 2014 by the Monmouth U. Polling Institute. Unlike prior surveys, a higher percentage of Republicans expressed a desire to flee.

Unlike New York, the number one reason cited for wanting to flee New Jersey was the state’s high tax rate. (Crime was number one in New York.) The overall cost of living was also a factor. Obviously, moving to New York wouldn’t solve those ills, but there are plenty of red states where Jersey residents could find both lower costs and lower crime rates.

It’s probably no surprise that 69% of New Jersey Republicans indicated a desire to leave, but nearly half (47%) of Democrats said the same. It would appear that life in New Jersey is an equal opportunity pain in the behind.

But those numbers seem to conflict with the responses to a question asking residents to rate the quality of life in New Jersey. 19% described it as being excellent and 45% said that it was at least “good.” So it sounds like most of them would be okay with staying if everything wasn’t so expensive.

The real problem for New Jersey may not show up until a bit further down the line and that comes with the attitude of the younger generation. Among people under the age of 35, 42% said that they “plan” to leave New Jersey in the future. When a state starts losing the younger part of the population, the workforce participation decreases along with the state’s revenue it requires to pay benefits to older residents. That’s a formula for disaster.

If a significant number of New Jersey folks pack up and head to red states, that would bring us back to the same double-edged sword we’ve dealt with here before. Having new workers flooding into red states for the lower cost of living and better protection from crime can grow that state’s population, revenue, and eventually it’s congressional representation. (New York just lost another House seat and New Jersey may be in danger of that in 2030.) But the other side of that coin comes with the fact that the red state suddenly has a flood of people who previously had no problem with the liberal impulses of their state government. If they show up in force and begin voting for Democrats, they will quickly turn their new state into the same sort of hellhole they just fled.

This also adds to the idea I’ve discussed here recently about the possibility of a “new civil war” in America. Diluting the populations of conservatively governed states will only add one more pressure point to a situation that is already fraught with tension. And under an open democracy, there seems to be no way to exert any control over shifts such as this. I can assure you that I’m a lot less optimistic about the long-term future of the country than I was only five years ago.