Florida or California?

Which will it be come 2024? 

Is America going to choose the Florida model or the California way? What if it comes down to Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom versus Republican Governor Ron DeSantis for president of the United States? One has an America First philosophy and the other a socialist one. One works, the other fails, badly. One sees people and businesses moving to the state in droves, the other, people are moving out in record numbers. 

Which will it be, if the faceoff occurs? The Sunshine State or the Golden State? 

Let’s do the full comparison as it may foretell a storyline that is rapidly unraveling before our eyes. Just suppose, Biden and Trump are not the candidates in 2024 and the baton gets passed on to the next generation of leaders. That could mean the choice becomes even more vivid and personal, and the country would get to pick its future direction based on the experience lived and the policy records, in these two contrasting states. 

Already, we see Pelosi’s nephew, Newsom, running ads in Florida against DeSantis’ reelection bid but it portends far more. It may in fact be a precursor of the larger battle to come.  

Factually, there couldn’t be a bigger difference in the two states, both of which have long coastlines, plenty of sunshine, great beaches and large, diverse populations, with significant Hispanic minorities and dynamic political cultures. California features one-party rule, a far-left bias, and socialism for all. Florida, by contrast, is a vibrant two-party state, tilts rightward, and in recent years has featured all-out entrepreneurial capitalism, small business growth, low taxes, and individual liberty. 

How do they fare on a host of relevant statistics, if voters were to actually look under the hood and do their homework? Let’s check them out. 

On the Economy

California’s population stands at 40 million, while Florida’s is roughly half that size at 20.5 million. California’s gross domestic product is $3.4 trillion compared to Florida’s GDP of $1.2 trillion. One features Hollywood and high-tech industry and the other, tourism and agriculture. The job growth rate in Florida is 2.4 percent but just 1.2 percent in California, which is depopulating and losing jobs. Net legal migration is 1.3 percent in Florida and an astonishingly negative 0.2 percent in California. Florida gained a congressional seat in the last U.S. Census. California lost one. Famously, California had the harshest lockdowns during the COVID pandemic, while Florida was the earliest to fully reopen and reap the benefits. 

On the Cost of Living

The cost of living index clearly favors Florida. California has become too expensive. Gas is priced at an average of over $6.50 a gallon. Housing is unaffordable. California has record healthcare costs, food costs, higher obesity rates, and an equal percentage of uninsured.

On Taxes

The tax rate in California is among the highest in the nation, when combined, close to 9 percent. The corporate rate is 8.4 percent. There is a 7.5 percent average sales tax. Florida has no state income tax at all and ranks fourth lowest in the nation in overall taxes. It is very pro-business, with a low 5.5 percent corporate tax rate and a 6 percent sales tax.

On Crime

Florida ranks in the middle of all states on crime per thousand, while California is in the top 10. Florida has 378 crimes per 100,000 adults per year and California’s rate just keeps climbing. Murders, rapes, and burglary are at all-time highs. Its cities are among the most dangerous and unsafe. With a low incarceration rate, California prosecutors do not enforce the law and let criminals back on the streets, often without bail. Police have been defunded. 

On Education

Florida has excelled in education and is now ranked third in the United States. California is not even in the top 20 and its scores are below average on every measure and have been dropping precipitously. It’s illiteracy rate is on par with Mississippi’s. There is little school choice in California and a great deal of indoctrination around sex, gender, race (CRT) and civics—or lack thereof. 

On Environment

Florida has 18 days of unhealthy air a year compared to California’s staggering 201 bad days. It also has wildfires and water shortage problems. Brown outs have become commonplace. Florida has almost no homeless problem and is well ordered. In California, especially in its largest cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, homelessness and drug abuse are out of control. It has taxpayer funded encampments with no legal enforcement whatsoever and some open drug zones, where the government dispenses needles and drugs. 

On Infrastructure

Florida has come a long way and ranks in the top 20 states, with only 13 percent of its roads considered “poor,” and it boasts good internet access. California ranks 31st among the states for infrastructure and has horrible roads and long commute times. 

On Guns

Florida gun laws allow the right to bear arms in the state constitution. The state allows concealed carry and open carry. It has “stand your ground” self-defense laws. Bump stocks are not permitted and new red flag laws apply. In California, assault weapons are banned altogether, magazines are highly restricted, and gun buyers must be 21 or older. California has a reputation for being tough on legal gun ownership and no other state regulates firearms as much as California. 

On Abortion

California has among the most liberal abortion laws in America. Abortion is permitted up to the point of “viability,” around 24 weeks into a pregnancy, with widespread exceptions for the life or “health” of the mother. The state actively supports abortion and plans to pay woman to come there as abortion tourists. Florida has enacted strict abortion laws and only allows the practice up to 15 weeks, while restricting it otherwise. Florida imposes injuries on those who illegally provide abortions. 

On Financial Stability

Florida is very stable and ranked in the top few states, with a strong AAA bond rating, a balanced budget, and liquidity at 5.8 percent. California, on the other hand, has been slipping and now has an AA2 bond rating and its liquidity rating is quite low, 36th in the United States. 

Overall Evaluation

When you tally up all these standings, clearly Florida wins hands down. Florida in a recent survey ranked No. 1 on freedom while California came in dead last.

If you were to reproduce these models nationally, Americans would have an easy choice to make. Without even more massive cheating, there is no way Newsom could get over 81 million votes. I doubt he would get six states to swing his way. America would be choosing freedom over government control, honesty over hypocrisy, and economic success over proven disaster.

About Theodore Roosevelt Malloch

Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, scholar-diplomat-strategist, is CEO of the thought leadership firm The Roosevelt Group. He is the author of 18 books, including The Plot to Destroy Trump and, with Felipe J. Cuello, Trump's World: GEO DEUS. He appears regularly in the media, as a keynote speaker, and on television around the world. 

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

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