Originally published on January 31, 2020 5:08 pm
April Poley is a broker and real estate agent in Gillette, Wyoming. Lately she's been getting a lot of her potential clients through a business called Conservative Move.
"Really it's a referral service," Poley said. "People go through that website. They say what states they're interested in, and then if they mentioned Wyoming, they get forwarded on to me."
Poley said what she hears is pretty consistent: Buyers are looking for somewhere high on Second Amendment rights, and low on taxes.
"And they just feel like Wyoming might be a little less-we're a little bit more where we just let people do what they want to do," she said. "'You do your thing and I'll do mine' kind of attitudes around here."
Conservative Move is a company that helps people move to conservative places, founded in 2017 by Paul Chabot after he and his wife left California for Texas.
"When we arrived we realized that so many people had made the move obviously long before us but also for the exact same reasons," Chabot said. "We found our neighbor across the street was from California, my postman was from Long Beach, California. The guy at Home Depot is from Orange County."
Chabot said he and his wife came to Texas for its conservative values and political bent, and that's when they got the idea.
"We decided to create a business based on that model of helping families move out of blue states and into red states, and the business literally blew up overnight," he said.
Chabot said there are agents like April Poley in 40 states. If an agent helps someone sell their house and/or buy another in their new "red" community, Conservative Move gets a percentage of the agent's commission.
Chabot knows his business isn't without controversy.
"People will say, 'Well, moving isn't political.' I disagree," he said. "And it's not about political ideology or which way you lean. It's that everything is impacted in this world, in this country, in our cities and states, by political decisions made by those that are elected."
But Zachary Taylor, who teaches political science at the University of Wyoming, said the business could exacerbate political entrenchment.
"If you sequester any demographic, any political, any kind of identify issues, it does tend to make them more radical," Taylor said.
It's no secret the country is very politically divided, and a service like Conservative Move reflects that. But Taylor said when we isolate ourselves from different perspectives, it becomes difficult to combat polarization.
"The further apart you get, the more you ignore that middle ground, or establish that middle ground as a negative, the more difficult bringing the two parties or the two political beliefs together becomes," he said.
Conservative Move's Paul Chabot has a ready retort.
"Look, we're providing a service to anybody, we don't ask about your political affiliation," he said. "But if you're fed up with the leftist policies that make it difficult for you to have the quality of life-or, more importantly, to reach the American dream, which has been owning your own piece of land or property-then come to us, we'll do all we can."
It's hard to say how well that pitch is working. The company doesn't release financials, but Chabot said it's been a profitable three years. He estimated his company has helped tens of thousands of families. Of course, he only makes a profit if that interaction results in the sale or purchase of a house.
Back in Wyoming, April Poley said that when she gets a call from a politically motivated buyer, she tries to give people a realistic impression of the state-and stress that it's not as homogenous as some might believe.
"Maybe they're tired of fighting and think, 'Well, if we move to a place like Wyoming, we don't have to fight politically,'" she said, adding: "I don't really feel like that's true."
After all, she said there are purple, even blue spots, here.
Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Maggie Mullen, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center For the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.
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