Vermont used to be solidly red, but flipped to solidly blue in 1992. Why?

I'm getting conflicting answers from different sources. Wikipedia talks about ethnic coalitions: white of French descent vote Democrat (why?) which hasn't changed, whites of English descent vote Republican (why?), which hasn't changed, and Irish Catholics have flipped, which flipped the state as a whole.

FiveThirtyEight, on the other hand, says it is largely educated white migration from Boston + NYC in the 60s + 70s. The more liberal migrants self-sorted into Vermont.

Is this something we know the answer to?

  • 1
    Perhaps they tired of having the highest rate of deaths in the nation. While the article is about the Iraq War in 2007, remember that 1992 was when Bill Clinton (blue) beat out George H.W. Bush (red), a main supporter (instigator?) of the Gulf War. Feb 23, 2017 at 9:52
  • 3
    It's worth noting that, compared with other rural states, Vermont derives a lot of its economy from tourism, niche agriculture, and handicrafts.
    – Colin
    May 7, 2017 at 5:33
  • Just to point out that there probably wasn't any sudden flip in political attitudes in Vermont circa 1992. Vermont's switch to "solidly blue" from 1992 simply mirrors the nationwide flip, where the South was once reliably blue: 270towin.com/historical-presidential-elections
    – user2212
    May 28, 2017 at 8:05

3 Answers 3


As you've pointed out 538 has an excellent geopolitical analysis of Vermont with very specific answers to the question. Three that stood out:

Vermont’s political landscape began to change in the 1960s and 1970s. City dwellers from nearby states like Massachusetts and New York began fleeing struggling metropolises like Boston and New York City.

In 1970, as the migration into Vermont got going, the state passed a law, Act 250, to limit development. That, in turn, attracted more environmental-minded migrants.

Vermont today is among the greenest states, and green industries are a major part of the state’s economy.

  • 2
    Yes, I was hoping some alternative sources supporting their conclusions could be found. In particular, reading this version of events vs. Wikipedia's, which should I believe?
    – Eli Rose
    Jul 3, 2017 at 2:47

My understanding is that there was a substantial influx of New Yorkers in the 80s and 90s.

New England has always had a strong libertarian / leave-me-alone streak, and no New England state has been reliably red for at least the last 30 years. The translants were enough to tip the political culture to the left.

  • 1
    Why did the New Yorkers settle in Vermont rather than New Hampshire or Mass?
    – Eli Rose
    May 29, 2017 at 22:51
  • See link this article.
    – Curt
    May 29, 2017 at 22:56
  • 2
    There's not "leave-me-alone" attitude in VT; not from the people that vote Democratic anyway.
    – Andy
    May 30, 2017 at 1:14

Race or phenotypes have nothing to do with it. I think it's the education level of the general population, and limitation of corporate money influencing politics and media. Vermont does not allow billboards. Just one example. http://twistedsifter.com/2014/10/why-vermont-banned-billboards/

This ban also carries over to the thousands of annoying small banners that sit on thin metal frames that line all our roads in other states before elections. Usually they are not removed until weeks after the election. Vermont got it right here and is a great example for other states to follow.

The voters don't need propaganda noise. What they need are the answers to how each politician will deal with important issues that affect the daily life of the majority of constituents. The educated Vermont voter is skeptical about campaign promises. Rather, they look at the seasoned track record of the politician's commitment to implementations of stated policys. When there is less campaign propaganda noise, it is easier for a seasoned independent politician like Bernie Sanders to flourish. While propaganda and campaign advertising restrictions are important, this is tied to the amount of campaign funding and money in politics in general which must be capped.

The shift from red to blue in 1992 can be linked directly to the first Gulf war. Vermont and New Hampshire politics has always been of restraint from getting involved overseas. The skeptical Vermont voter saw through the deceptions put out by the republican party of the US need to intervene. Unlike the rest of the red states, the Vermont voter was not fooled.

  • 1
    Welcome to Politics.SE! Your answer would greatly improve if you could 1) provide references for the states facts (greater education, corporate money), and 2) establish some sort of causal connection to the state's voting patterns. Right now, your answer doesn't really meet the quality criteria for the site I'm afraid. I'm also confused how the billboard ban is related to this all.
    – user11249
    May 24, 2017 at 23:41
  • 1
    The billboard ban is just one small example of how the corporate propaganda is subdued in comparison to southern states. The author of the question already eluded to the migration of the educated white population from NY and Boston. An educated mind is more able to think critically and not get duped by sound bytes, talking heads, and other corporate propaganda. May 25, 2017 at 0:02
  • 3
    But if you break things down into college graduates and not, the college graduates vote Republican more than the non-graduates. To see the switch to Democrats, you have to get to graduate degrees (or control for income). And I don't know that Vermont has more people with graduate degrees than New Hampshire. Also, I think that you are reversing cause and effect. Because Vermont is liberal, it is also more willing to ban billboards. Incidentally, you might want to look up the words allude and elude, because the one that you used doesn't seem to be the one that you wanted.
    – Brythan
    May 25, 2017 at 0:21
  • @Brythan thank you for correcting. The educated voter can think more critically and independently. However the choices of vote are limited in the southern states to the 2 parties due to barriers to entry for other parties or candidates. A Bernie Sanders type candidate is seldom a choice in red state local or state elections. When the vote choices are limited, then republican can be the most rational choice of the 2. If corporate money is eliminated from the political process and broader candidate participation is enhanced then you will see the red and blue turn violet. May 25, 2017 at 13:30
  • @0tyranny0poverty actually made some valid points. The original 538 article states "...split between new, highly educated and left-leaning Vermonters and old, less-educated and more fiscally conservative.." and in another analysis performed by 538, the link between education and vote choice was substantiated Finally, Vermont ranks as the 3rd lowest for state leg contribution max, but 14 states tie at first. Jun 30, 2017 at 7:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .