Chuck DeVore is just one of thousands of former Californians who have moved to Texas. But DeVore is unique. Not only did he serve in the California Assembly, but he remains heavily engaged in policy issues as Vice President of National Initiatives at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a free market think tank based in Austin.
DeVore is a frequent guest on national television shows to speak on economic issues, including how progressive policies suppress economic growth. Moreover, he has firsthand experience with the movement of people and money between the two economic titans, California and Texas.
The migration of businesses from California to Texas is well-documented. Big names, like Charles Schwab, Campbell’s Soup, Burger King, Waste Management and other billion-dollar businesses severed their California connections for Lone Star liberty. In fact, it was entertaining to watch the sparring between then-Texas Governor Rick Perry — who frequented California to poach businesses from California — and the Golden State’s own Jerry Brown who tried to portray Texas as hick-country governed by a buffoon.
More than just businesses, it is people who have left California in numbers significantly larger than those coming in from other states. From 2007 to 2016, California has experienced net domestic out-migration of a million citizens, and the number-one destination? You guessed it. Texas. Of course, that doesn’t mean that California has lost population, in fact it has gained. But those gains have come from immigration – both documented and otherwise — and new births.
When Californians started moving to Texas in big numbers, the concern of many Texans — especially conservatives who have dominated Texas politics for decades — was that those crazy, lefty Californians would bring their progressive politics with them. But it appears that Californians are making Texas, well, more like Texas.
Thanks to the aforementioned Chuck DeVore, he made us aware of a very interesting exit poll taken in Texas on Election Day. Turns out that ex-pats living in — and voting in — Texas supported Senator Ted Cruz in his high-profile reelection bid by a 15 percent margin, with an older poll of Californians in Texas suggesting that by more than 2 to 1, they’re conservative vs. liberal.
His opponent, Beto O’Rourke, darling of progressive Democrats, was a charismatic candidate backed by a $70 million campaign budget. And while it is unlikely that Cruz’s margin of victory was decided by just ex-Californians, the same would not be true if the race were as close as the hotly contested – and still undecided – races in Arizona and Florida.
We’ve seen the impact of ex-Californians on other states’ politics before. Nevada barely went for George W. Bush in the nasty election contest against Al Gore in the 2000 presidential race. But for former aerospace workers who left California and tend to vote for conservatives, it is entirely possible that Gore would have become president.
The upshot is that California is exporting conservatives. We’re sure that California progressives are happy about this but it is bad news for California’s ever-shrinking number of fiscal conservatives. This month’s election has saddled California with billions in higher taxes and bond debt on top of our highest in the nation income taxes and sales taxes. Moreover, the dominant Democrats — who have secured a supermajority in both houses, are seriously talking about a hundred-billion-dollar single-payer health plan for the state. As California turns a deeper shade of blue, look for more conservative voters moving out to more receptive states and taking their sane voting habits with them.
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.