The number of Americans looking to pack up and bail out of the United States appears to have spiked in the wake of Tuesday’s trainwreck presidential debate, with Google measuring a huge uptick in searches for “how to move to New Zealand” both during and after the broadcast.
The popularity of the search term ramped up during the 90-minute debate—which commentators have variously described as a “shitshow”, a “disgrace” and “a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a trainwreck”—surging to a peak popularity ranking of 100 out of 100 by the time it finished.
Other search terms that saw a similar spike included “can I move to New Zealand”, “move to Canada” and “best countries for Americans to move to”. Sudden interest in leaving the U.S. appears to be coming from both sides of the aisle, too, with most of the searches regarding a move to New Zealand and Canada coming out of Oregon, a democratic state, and most of the searches regarding “best countries for Americans to move to” coming out of Florida, a republican state.
This isn’t the first time Americans have considered opting out, moving to New Zealand and starting a new life on literally the other side of the world. The NZ Herald notes that in the months following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 250,000 Americans investigated whether they qualify to move to New Zealand—a country which, until August, was lauded as a global leader in containing the virus.
Massey University's Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley told the Herald that “Middle class, professional America is saying, 'Well, where do we go for our own safety and the safety of our families?'"
Tuesday night’s calamitous debate between the U.S.’s two presidential hopefuls appears to have reignited those concerns.
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