Governor Newsom Urges Floridians to Move to California

I’m a Floridian, and I’m Stunned by this Act of Desperation

California Governor Gavin Newsom has spent more than $100,000 on ads urging Floridians to move to California. In his ad, Governor Newsom says “I urge all of you living in Florida to join the fight, or join us in California where we still believe in freedom.”

Would people living in what Florida Governor Ron DeSantis calls “the free state of Florida” really want to move to California, where state taxes are among the highest in the nation, regulatory burdens make everything from housing to gasoline more expensive than in other states, and when the high cost of living is taken into account, the state has one of the highest percentages of the population below the poverty line?

Let’s see where people actually want to live. This article says, “Every year since the 1990s, more people have exited California than have moved in from other parts of the country.” Why? That article goes on to say “Although California is a natural paradise, it also is plagued by various forms of social disorder, including, in many places, crime, vandalism, and scandalous levels of homelessness.”

Meanwhile, this article says, “For the fifth consecutive year, Florida ranks in the number one spot for net migration.” The evidence is very clear. Year after year, more people are moving out of California to other states than are moving in; more people are moving into Florida from other states than are moving out.

If I take Governor Newsom’s ad at face value (which I don’t), it would appear that he sees something desirable in Florida’s citizens. He’s pitched the ad to Floridians, after all, inviting Floridians to move to California, not all Americans. Looking at the migration data, the message he’s sending to Floridians seems to be “California: It’s not as bad as people think it is.”

I will not speculate on why California’s governor would run an ad like this in a state thousands of miles away from his own. As a Floridian myself, I would not try to dissuade any fellow Floridians who would want to make that move. But the evidence shows that when Americans look for desirable places to live, Florida ranks at the top, and California, despite its natural amenities, ranks near the bottom. I doubt that many Floridians will fall for Governor Newsom’s sales pitch.

Randall G. Holcombe is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, the DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University, and author of the Independent Institute book Liberty in Peril: Democracy and Power in American History.
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