As America Divides, Florida and Texas Head One Way, California and New York Go the Opposite Direction

As America Divides, Florida and Texas Head One Way, California and New York Go the Opposite Direction
A "For Sale" sign hangs outside a home in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on June 12, 2012. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Mark Tapscott
News Analysis

In her long and futile search for why she lost the 2016 election, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton did manage to find some solace in the areas she carried against President Donald Trump.

“So, I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward,” Clinton told an audience during a 2018 speech in India. “And his whole campaign, ‘Make America Great Again,’ was looking backwards.”

Clinton was at least right that the places she carried were profoundly different from those Trump won, just not in the way she characterized them.

The differences are vividly seen by comparing Clinton’s California and New York with Trump’s Texas and Florida on the basis of a host of political, economic, and demographic factors, among others.

To grasp, for example, how inaccurate Clinton’s self-absorbed description was, consider that red states Florida and Texas gained millions of new residents in the last decade, showing increases of 11.88 percent and 7.29 percent respectively. New York lost 2.7 percent and California gained a mere 0.89 percent.

“The outpouring of residents from blue to red states almost has been one of the biggest demographic stories in American history, with a thousand people making the move every day on average,” economist Stephen Moore said after Clinton spoke.
The migration figures above are according to data compiled by Truth-in-Accounting’s Data-Z. Data-Z sorts data from hundreds of government and commercial sources and presents them in a handy, easy-to-use format that allows comparisons among one or two, or all 50 states, using multiple factors. All data cited in this story is for the most recent available year.

Opposing Poles

The four states share some characteristics, but mostly they make up two opposing poles, with California and New York representing affluent but highly regulated and increasingly troubled blue America, and Florida and Texas leading the increasingly prosperous, opportunity-driven red America.

Population-wise, California ranks first, with 39.5 million, followed by Texas with 29 million, Florida with 21.4 million and New York with 19.4 million.

Home ownership rates are relatively close, with Florida the highest at 65.9 percent, Texas next at 61.7 percent, followed by New York at 54.8 percent and California at 53.7 percent.

But that’s about where the similarities end. The cost of a median-value home in California is $549,671 and $323,797 in New York. Buying such a home is much easier in Florida ($243,527) and Texas ($205,943).

Per capita personal incomes aren’t quite as divergent as median home values but are still at a distance, with Florida at $51,989 and Texas at $52,504. California’s figure is $66,600 and New York’s tops at $71,440.


The differences are even starker on politics where the red and blue divide is brutal. Texas last elected a Democratic governor in 1990 and no Democratic presidential contender has carried the state since Jimmy Carter in 1976. Democrats got only 47 percent of the Texas vote for seats in Congress in 2018.

Florida’s last elected Democratic governor was Lawton Chiles in 1996, and Democratic presidential aspirants have carried the Sunshine State only twice since 2000. Democratic House seat seekers received 47.1 percent of the Florida vote in 2018.

By contrast, Republicans are becoming rare in deep-blue California and New York. The last time the GOP controlled at least one house of California’s legislature was 1994, the same year that last saw Republican control of the Empire State Assembly.
The last Republican presidential candidate to carry California was George H.W. Bush in 1988, while Ronald Reagan in 1984 was the last Republican to carry New York.

Taxes, Spending, Health

The differences among these four states extend far beyond politics. California and New York are high-tax burden states, ranking first and 11th respectively, compared to Texas (33) and Florida (47).

That division is also reflected in how state officials spend tax dollars. In 2018, for example, California spent $141 billion on public welfare, with New York spending $71.6 billion.

Florida spent only $27.8 billion and Texas $39.4 billion on public welfare, a combined total that is less than New York and barely more than a fourth of California’s expenditures in the category.

A similar pattern is found on education spending, with California devoting $102.3 billion and New York $46.9 billion to public education. Texas spent $56.4 billion and Florida $28.6 billion.

In health care, California comes in at $6.6 billion and New York at $9.8 billion. Florida, with $3.9 billion, and Texas, with $3 billion, together spend less on health than New York and barely half as much as California.

In terms of the overall access to and quality of health care, however, Florida (24) and Texas (19) rank noticeably better than California (39) and New York (49).

The states’ respective approaches to criminal justice are diametrically opposed. In Texas, 549 of every 100,000 persons go to jail, while Florida’s per capita rate is 454. California’s figure is 321 and New York jails only 239 per capita.

Per capita violent crime rates aren’t quite as separated. California has the highest figure at 447, but Texas is second at 410, followed by Florida at 385 and New York with 350. California and Texas also have the lowest median ages in years at 36.7 and 34.9, which may account for their higher violent crime standings.

Other differences stand out. New York’s famously litigious culture is reflected in the 93.2 figure for lawyers per capita, higher than California’s 43.01. Florida comes in at 36.8 and Texas at 31.8.

A measure of how paternalistic the various state governments are finds New York topping the list and California close behind at 47. Florida at 34 and Texas at 32 were somewhat less paternalistic.

Similarly, a measure of each state’s regulatory restrictiveness (as measured by the frequency of words like “must,” “shall” and “required”) found California with the most (395,503), New York next at 307,636, followed by Texas (226,89) and Florida as the least restrictive at 170,890.

Finally, when Kiplinger measured the top 10 states for job growth, Florida was third and Texas seventh. Neither California nor New York made the top 10.
Contact Mark Tapscott at [email protected].
Mark Tapscott is an award-winning investigative editor and reporter who covers Congress, national politics, and policy for The Epoch Times. Mark was admitted to the National Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Hall of Fame in 2006 and he was named Journalist of the Year by CPAC in 2008. He was a consulting editor on the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series “Other Than Honorable” in 2014.