Young Voters and Conservatives Want to Leave California—Here’s Why

October 10, 2019 Updated: October 15, 2019

Political polarization, high taxes, and skyrocketing housing costs are causing some California residents to consider moving out of the state, according to a recent poll.

The University of California–Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll found that Republicans and conservatives are three times more likely than Democrats and liberals to seriously consider vacating the state. In total, the poll found that half of California’s registered voters have considered moving.

The most common reason given for considering the move was the high cost of housing, with 71 percent of voters seeing it as the main issue, while 58 percent of voters indicated high taxes as another factor. In addition, 46 percent of Republicans and conservatives attributed the political culture in California as inspiration to leave the state.

“I have spoken to many of what I like to call ‘California Refugees’ and why they have left California,” military veteran and chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of California, Anthony Cabassa, told The Epoch Times. “As the poll stated, a lot have grown extremely tired of government overreach, high taxes, impossible cost of living and the growing homeless population.”

The poll found Democrats and liberals were less likely to blame California’s political climate as a reason to leave, while half of Republicans and conservatives pointed to high taxes as a concern.

Meanwhile, 82 percent of young voters between 18 and 29 are considering leaving the state due to the rising costs of housing, the poll found, with 80 percent of those between 30 and 39 in agreement.

“If California continues to drive out it’s working middle class to competitive states like Arizona or Texas, where the housing is substantially cheaper and state taxes and gas prices are far more affordable, then I believe California would only be left with the elite in Silicon Valley, and the poorest people living off the government welfare state,” Cabassa said.

The director of the poll, Mark DiCamillo, told the Sacramento Bee that the findings are an “extremely serious problem,” and that residents “are being forced to consider moving” as a result of the increased cost of living.

Major cities in California, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, have also seen a spike in rent prices this year, which may have contributed to a rise in homelessness. A study from the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority found a 12 percent increase in homelessness in 2019, with nearly 60,000 people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County.

Approximately 1 out of 3, or 721,000 Los Angeles County households, spend over 50 percent of household income on rent alone, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies by Harvard University (pdf).

To afford a one-bedroom apartment, a Los Angeles renter on minimum wage ($13.25 per hour) would need to work 79 hours per week. The 2019 Los Angeles County Annual Affordable Housing Outcomes Report discovered in order to meet the needs of low-income renters, the city needs 516,946 new affordable housing units.

“We just haven’t been building enough housing—not just low-income or affordable housing, but housing of any kind,” Brian Uhler, leader of housing research for the nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst’s Office, told the Sacramento Bee in 2017.

The shortfall in housing is believed to be due to the growing population in the last decade. To keep up, California would need nearly 200,000 new housing units annually, and Uhler said it “would take several hundred billion dollars to address the overwhelming magnitude of the problem.” The newspaper reported at the time that there was a “1.5 million unit-shortfall between the number of low-income families who live here and the number of rentals they can afford,” and the problem has only become worse.

In June, Gov. Gavin Newsom released a budget revision of $1 billion to help fight California’s homelessness crisis. Just two weeks ago, Newsom signed a series of bills to combat the issue more urgently by urging councils to dispense funds promptly.

“Homelessness is a national emergency that demands more than just words, it demands action,” Newsom said in a statement. “State government is now doing more than ever before to help local governments fight homelessness, expand proven programs, and speed up rehousing.”

Another factor driving out many Californians, according to Cabassa, is the recent changes to exemptions for school vaccination requirements.

“I think California once was a land of opportunity, and it still can be, but at the state it is currently in, and the people in government in charge, I see absolutely no hope,” Cabassa said. “I think there are a lot of people upset.”

Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jamiewritess