In the pre-social media days, we endured "threats" from various people, mostly celebrities with far-left political views, that they would leave the country if a Republican presidential candidate won election or reelection. Late director Robert Altman, actor Alec Baldwin, actress Kim Basinger, singer Barbra Streisand, and others threatened to leave the U.S. in 2000 if George W. Bush won that year's presidential contest against Al Gore. Though Altman left us permanently in 2006, none of the luminaries just named carried through on their threats to move elsewhere when Bush won.
Now it's apparently a bit of a sport on social media to threaten to leave the country if Donald Trump wins the presidency. On Tuesday, clearly otherwise out of story ideas, Paul Singer at USA Today treated a "content analysis" firm's compilation of such desires expressed on Twitter as news. It's also comedy gold (HT Gateway Pundit; bolds are mine):
If Donald Trump wins, what country would you flee to?
This might be one solution to the nation’s immigration problem: Donald Trump haters on Twitter say they will flee the country if he becomes president.
In our favorite social media analysis so far this year, the digital analytics firm Luminoso scoured 4.5 million Trump-related tweets from Aug. 7 through Sept. 9 and found about 4% of them were people promising to leave the country if Trump wins the White House.
Here are the top destinations in those 200,000 “intent to move” tweets:
General: 69,000 (“I’m moving if Trump is elected” but no location specified)
United Kingdom: 11,000
Certainly the folks moving to Hawaii and Alaska may be surprised to arrive and discover that Trump is still their president because those places are actually part of the United States.
Luminoso’s Denise Christie said the firm was not looking for this result in the Trump tweets — it was just a pattern that emerged from their content analysis.
Luminoso may not have been looking for the result, but their exaggerated interpretation is startling. Their related blog post's graphic is titled, "Where Twitter is moving if Trump becomes president." Even if we were to believe these surely mostly empty promises, the firm already admitted that only 4 percent of Tweeters expressed a desire to leave — and one-third of them couldn't even name where they'd go. Additionally, over 7,000 of them were too dense to know that Alaska and Hawaii are in the U.S.
If those who indicated they would move to Mexico if Trump wins are predominantly here illegally and really would carry through on their "threat," many would characterize that result as a form of progress.
Instead of lazily serving up political pablum, USA Today's Singer should do some meaningful work tying the effects of public policy to mobility, specifically looking for answers to the following questions: 1) How many individuals and families, particularly those with one or more jobholders, have left blue states like California and New York for more business- and job-friendly red states like Texas, Florida and Arizona? 2) Why are these significant net movements to red states taking place?
Here's a bonus question: How many Americans have renounced their citizenship in recent years (the answer is "many more than in previous years"), and why?
Those moving are people who really are voting their feet. There is available hard data about their numbers, as opposed to a collection of crybabies striking boisterous poses on social media.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.