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() — California and Florida have beautiful beaches and sunshine in common but the states’ two governors couldn’t be more different.
That contrast is something California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has been highlighting in recent television spots airing on Fox News in Florida.
“I urge all of you living in Florida to join the fight or join us in California where we still believe in freedom,” Newsom said in the ad.
The California governor — who is running for re-election — takes direct aim at the Sunshine State’s conservative agenda.
“They’re banning books, making it harder to vote, restricting speech in classrooms, even criminalizing women and doctors,” Newsom said in the ad.
Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron Desantis has yet to respond to Newsom directly but in a statement to a spokesperson for the governor’s office called the ad a “desperate attempt to win back California refugees who fled the hellhole he created in his state to come to Florida.”
State numbers show that California has lost nearly 300,000 residents in the past two years while Florida gained more than 211,000 people.
Data shows most Californians relocated to other western states such as Nevada, Arizona and Oregon. Texas was also a popular destination for those leaving the Golden State. Nearly 40,000 people did leave California for Florida.
But comparing the two states is complicated. Experts point out that people move for a variety of reasons.
“It’s not just one thing. It’s multiple facets that appeal to different types of people,” said Dowell Myers, a professor who specializes in demographics at USC’s Price School of Public Policy.
Myers, who grew up in Florida but now lives in California, says much of the demographic change is being driven by young people who have been willing to move for career opportunities.
“They’re the ones who are trying to start their careers, looking to buy a house or rent an apartment. I would focus on them,” Myers said. “And those young people are also very, very sensitive to issues of family planning and some of those differences between Florida and California are political and policy-based.”
In the most recent rankings of best places to live by U.S. News and World Report, Washington state came in at number one, Florida placed 10th and California was 24th.
Myers expects current population trends to continue for the foreseeable future, in part, because California is already the most populous state.
“Florida will keep growing more than California,” Myers said. “A general rule is a bigger a place gets, the slower it grows.”