They Left: Portland Is Losing Some of Its Biggest Fans

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The old saying is a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged.

In Portland, many liberals are dodging stray bullets, losing catalytic converters to thieves, and sidestepping tents. Then they open their tax bills.

Maybe they aren’t voting Republican. But some are voting with their feet, getting the hell out of a city that once stole their hearts, driven away as taxes rise and quality of life declines.

Multnomah County has lost residents for the past three years, according to Portland State University’s Population Research Center. Before 2020, it hadn’t lost people since 1987, and that was just a one-year blip in an upward run that began in 1984.

In the most recent PSU estimate—for the year ended July 1, 2022—the population fell by 2,321. The cause was “out migration,” PSU says, which is a fancy way of saying people bailed.

That may not seem like a lot in a county that had 812,563 residents as of July 1, 2021, but it’s a reversal of fortune for a city that once attracted migrants from other states the way locally roasted Chemex coffee draws men with sleeve tattoos.

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