“If He Wins, I'm Moving to Canada”: Ideological Migration Threats Following the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election


  • Matt Motyl

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Virginia
    • Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Matt Motyl, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, P.O. Box 400400, Charlottesville, VA 22904 [e-mail: motyl@virginia.edu].

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Every four years, partisan Americans threaten to migrate to Canada (or some other country) if their preferred candidate loses the Presidential election. This phenomenon has yet to undergo an empirical test. In the present experiment, 308 Obama voters and 142 Romney voters following the 2012 election responded to one of two writing prompts that led them to think about how the United States was becoming more liberal or conservative. Regardless of the writing prompt condition, Romney voters endorsed migration expressions more than Obama voters. Furthermore, Romney voters, compared to Obama voters, expressed a reduced sense of belonging in the United States. The relationship between voting for Romney and migration expressions was fully mediated by sense of belonging. Together, these findings support the ideological migration hypothesis and suggest that threatening to move to Canada following an undesirable election outcome may be driven by voters’ belonging needs.