Californians Voting With Their Feet—Somewhere Else

May 17, 2022 Updated: May 17, 2022


I first heard the phrase “voting with their feet” in the 1960s during the Vietnam War. It was used for people fleeing communist North Vietnam for free South Vietnam.

Later, after Saigon fell to the communists, overrunning Saigon in 1975, the “Boat People” took to the seas, millions coming to free America, especially Orange County, where I live. Several have been my good friends.

Californians continue voting with their feet—to other states. The latest figures from the California Department of Finance show a population drop of 117,552 during the 2021 calendar year, down to 39,185,605 people.

The DOF report shies away from direct language. So I’ll analyze it. It reported, “The 0.3-percent decline represents a slowing compared to the 0.59-percent decline over the nine-month period between the April 2020 Census date and the year’s end.” It cited aging baby boomers, such as yours truly, now nearing 67; and “fertility declines among younger cohorts,” meaning youngsters aren’t having as many kids as before.

COVID inevitably took its toll as well, although other states still saw population increases. Then there’s “continuing federal delays in processing foreign migration,” meaning the continuation of Title 42 public health order deportations of illegal immigrants at the border. The Biden administration is seeking to end the order. On Wednesday, reported Fox News, a federal judge continued Title 42 deportations “ahead of its May 23 end date and a hearing on a request for a preliminary injunction later this week.”

Despite Title 42, 43,300 new immigrants came to California. But that was below the 140,000 a year before COVID hit in 2020.

The city data are most revealing, in an Excel spreadsheet here. The losses were greatest in the Bay Area (Silicon Valley-San Francisco-Oakland) and the Los Angeles metropolitan area, including Orange County’s two largest cities, Anaheim and Santa Ana.

10 Greatest City Population Losses

  1. Los Angeles City: -33,885;
  2. San Jose: -14,662;
  3. San Francisco: – 6,742;
  4. Oakland: -5,636;
  5. Anaheim: -3,356;
  6. Santa Ana: -2,881;
  7. Santa Barbara: -1,908;
  8. Salinas: -1,845;
  9. Davis: -1,818;
  10. Santa Rosa: -1,621.

The cities showing the largest growth begin with Irvine, still a growing planned community in Orange County. Second and fourth are the university towns of Santa Cruz and Berkeley. According to Berkeleyside, “Berkeley’s student enrollment has increased 34% in recent years,” causing a housing crisis. And San Diego placed sixth, the only large coastal city with any gain.

Tenth is Roseville, in Placer County, a bedroom community for the metastasizing state government in nearby Sacramento. The rest are inland cities, where the living is cheaper than in the shrinking coastal burgs.

10 Greatest City Population Gains

  1. Irvine: +8,996
  2. Santa Cruz: +6,481
  3. Riverside: +5,058
  4. Berkeley: +3,294
  5. Menifee: +3,010
  6. San Diego: +2,958
  7. Fontana: +2,920
  8. Ontario: +2,827
  9. Bakersfield: +2,736
  10. Roseville: +2,240

Why Escape Paradise?

Why would anyone leave paradise? With the best climate in the world? Interesting people, great universities, the center of major technology companies?

In the past year, three friends of mine and their families decamped for other states. Although their means were greater, because they sold their homes for large gains, the reasons were eerily similar to the Boat People who escaped communist Vietnam: California is highly socialist. The government dominates almost everything. Taxes strangulate family incomes. Regulations make life, especially running a business, difficult. The schools indoctrinate communism, albeit of the Cultural Marxist variety instead of Hanoi’s economic Marxism.

Fortunately, California, despite boasts it’s the “fifth largest economy,” is part of the United States. That means the U.S. Constitution still applies here. But you can see how tyrannical the state would become on its own by the fevered reaction to the likely overturning of the Roe v. Wade abortion decision. If that happens, little will change in California law. But California politicians in Washington such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Supreme Court justices such as Anthony Kennedy, a Californian and now retired, will not be able to impose their will on the entire country.

Americans are the most mobile people in history. It’s fairly easy to hit the 10 freeway and quote Mark Twain’s Huck Finn, “I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest.” Only today the “Territory” isn’t to the West in California, where Twain was a journalist, but to the East, in Texas, and Florida.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

John Seiler
John Seiler is a veteran California opinion writer. He has written editorials for The Orange County Register for almost 30 years. He is a U.S. Army veteran and former press secretary for California state Sen. John Moorlach. He blogs at