California or Florida? There is One Clear Winner

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California or Florida? There is One Clear Winner

More Americans would prefer to live in Florida than California according to a new survey conducted exclusively for Newsweek, which also found a plurality of those who watched or read about the acrimonious televised debate between Ron DeSantis and Gavin Newsom believed the Florida governor won.

The Redfield and Wilton Strategies survey found 47 percent of eligible U.S. voters would choose to live in Florida over California, against 40 percent who preferred The Golden State and 13 percent who were unsure. Speaking to Newsweek, Bryan Griffin, DeSantis’s press secretary, said, “Newsom’s California exemplified the failure of leadership this country has suffered under for years.”

On November 30 DeSantis and Newsom clashed over immigration, coronavirus lockdown and LGBTQ+ rights in a heated discussion hosted by Fox News host Sean Hannity. DeSantis is currently running for the Republican 2024 presidential nomination, though he is polling substantially behind frontrunner Donald Trump, while Newsom has been widely tipped as a potential Democratic presidential contender.


Of those who said they watched or read about the debate the new poll found 47 percent believed DeSantis emerged the victor, against 38 percent for Newsom with the remainder saying they didn’t know. The survey of 1,500 eligible voters in the U.S. was conducted on December 8. However, 49 percent of respondents said they “did not watch or read about the debates at all,” with 20 percent saying they watched the full thing, 19 percent saying they saw highlights and 13 percent claiming they read about the event.

Reacting to the poll, Griffin commented: “Gavin Newsom’s California exemplifies the failure of leadership this country has suffered under for years, yet the Democrats see him and his failures as the future of their party and this country. Ron DeSantis is the anti-Gavin Newsom; he’s the freedom and prosperity candidate.

“While Newsom’s bankrupting his state and driving people out, DeSantis has paid down 25 percent of Florida’s debt and welcomed record-breaking numbers of people who want to live under his leadership. As evidenced in his recent debate domination over Gavin Newsom, Ron DeSantis is the only candidate who can beat the Democrat’s candidate (whoever that may be) and revitalize this country as president.”

Despite the headline figure, the poll found 44 percent of Americans thought residents of California have a “higher quality of life” than those of Florida, with 40 percent choosing the Sunshine State and the rest unsure. California also polled ahead of Florida on which state has the most freedom and business opportunities, by 43 percent to 41 percent and 45 percent to 33 percent respectively.

However, Florida polled better for having the tax system respondents would prefer to live under, by 42 percent to 30 percent, and was deemed to have the greater level of public safety of 40 percent of those polled, against 37 percent for California.

The states tied at 39 percent when eligible voters were asked which had the “more effective state government,” 39 percent apiece, with the remaining 22 percent unsure.

Ron DeSantis and Gavin Newsom
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on November 06, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa (left) and Governor of California Gavin Newsom on October 25, 2023 (right). A plurality of Americans would choose to live in Florida rather than California according to a new poll conducted for Newsweek.
SCOTT OLSON/WANG ZHAO/AFP/GETTY

According to official U.S. Census figures, Florida was the fastest-growing U.S. state in the year to July 2022, with its population growing by 1.9 percent. During the same period, the population of California shrunk by 0.3 percent, with San Francisco County recording a 7.1 percent population reduction.

Other Democratic-controlled states, such as New York and Oregon, also saw population falls in the year to July 2022 whilst Republican states such as Texas, South Carolina and Idaho recorded rises.

Speaking to Newsweek earlier this year, Sam Karnick, a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank, suggested law and order is primarily responsible for the population shift between Democratic and Republican states.

He said: “The 2021 National Crime Victimization Survey shows that the rate of violent crime has been rising in urban areas, though not in suburbs or rural areas. This tracks with the population movement from Democrat-controlled states to Republican ones. The two are coincident, and there are clear indications of a causal relationship.”

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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