Will Migrating California Residents Bring Left-Wing Politics to Their New Homes?

Beset by high housing costs, crippling taxes, astronomical gas prices, wildfires, and rolling blackouts, Californians are heading for the exits. That’s sparking anxiety in places where these Golden State migrants are relocating. A mayoral candidate in Boise, Idaho, recently suggested building a wall to keep out Californians, who account for 60 percent of domestic migration into the growing state. The election of increasingly progressive candidates in Colorado sparked talk there of the “Californication” of the Centennial State.

Early last year, the Dallas News described the “California-ing” of North Texas, citing a study showing that 8,300 Californians move to the area yearly. Texas governor Greg Abbott launched a petition titled “Don’t California My Texas.”

Much of this anxiety revolves around fears that the migrants will transform the politics and culture of the places that they’re moving to—bringing an appetite for big, intrusive government. But a new survey suggests that, while plenty of people are looking to leave California, many are fleeing the state’s high costs and politics and may not be interested in voting for the same things in their new homes. The poll, by the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, found that 52 percent of California residents are considering migrating. As these polls go, that’s exceptionally high, putting California in the same category as some other states with very unhappy residents. A recent poll in New Jersey, for instance, found that about 44 percent of its people are looking to depart, while 50 percent of Connecticut residents indicated a desire to leave the state in a 2014 Gallup poll, the highest figure among any state at that time.

Politicians in high-tax states claim that taxes don’t drive people out, but their constituents disagree: in the Berkeley poll, 58 percent of those considering leaving California said that high taxes were one reason—second only to the 71 percent pointing to the state’s astronomical housing costs. Also high on the list of reasons to go was the state’s political culture, which nearly half of those thinking of getting out cited as a consideration. Though the poll didn’t define “political culture,” Gallup ranks California—where the state legislature and elected officials in many of the state’s cities have turned increasingly progressive—as among the most liberal of states.

What set the Berkeley poll apart is that it also asked residents their party affiliation and how they characterized themselves politically—revealing a sharp divide. Conservatives and moderates are the most unhappy with the state and most anxious to leave. Liberals, by contrast, are mostly staying put, and some think life in California is just great. Only 38 percent of Democrats said that they were considering leaving, compared with 55 percent of independents and 71 percent of Republicans. Similarly, those characterizing themselves as “somewhat liberal” were least likely to say that they want to go—fewer than four in ten are considering leaving. But 53 percent of moderates, 66 percent of the “somewhat conservative,” and 74 percent of the “very conservative” would like to migrate. Political affiliation, in fact, was more of a predictor of who wants to go or stay than other demographic information, such as race. The poll found, for instance, that 56 percent of white residents and 58 percent of African-Americans would like to leave; and 54 percent of men, compared with 50 percent of women, are thinking of going.

The results also suggest, however, that a political revolution that reverses the direction of California government is becoming increasingly difficult because it’s experiencing the state version of the Curley Effect. That phrase, coined by economists Edward Glaeser and Andrei Shleifer, describes how big-city mayors like James Michael Curley in Boston in the early twentieth century and Coleman Young in Detroit in the mid-to-late twentieth century managed to solidify their political dominance, even as their cities deteriorated because their policies drove out the people most likely to vote against them. That may explain why, despite California facing rising homelessness, increasing drug use, outbreaks of infectious diseases, blackouts, soaring housing costs, and high energy prices, voters and elected officials endorse still-higher taxes and fees, lighter penalties for crimes like drug use and shoplifting, and a government takeover of bankrupt power company Pacific Gas & Electric.

In a much-quoted interview last summer, California governor Gavin Newsom called his state a positive example of where America was heading—proof, he said, that multiculturalism and progressive social values can produce prosperity. “California is America’s coming attraction,” he said. About half of California begs to differ.

Steven Malanga is the senior editor of City Journal, the George M. Yeager Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and the author of Shakedown: The Continuing Conspiracy Against the American Taxpayer.

This article was originally published by City Journal Online.


  1. yes, does cancer metastasize? “California is America’s coming attraction,” he said. excuse me, I’ve already seen that horror movie.

  2. Yes and it’s so sad for America. We are watching the snowflakes invading the Austin area of Texas due to the Tech relocations and the Boise area is facing the problem and of course the Caner has decimated the Clark County area of Nevada. The phrase “They know not what they do” comes to mind. When the Politicians of the DNC front for the CPUSA gained control of the State of Nevada thanks in large part to the snowfakes from Cali in the Las Vegas/Henderson area of Nevada they “Fast tracked” Gun control and Union friendly Communist Agenda laws that wil take us down the path of Cali. Sad…

    • mark bucklin says

      Yet not all migrants from California are snowflakes. My wife and i moved to Austin 18 months ago and are anxious to turn purple back to red. Maybe we can help keep Austin weird and help Gov. Abbott implement a solution to the local homeless problem.

  3. Rottweiler says

    Newsome is the classic example of Democratic/Progressive failure. He trashed San Francisco and the surrounding area, it is in a state of DECAY. With his sanctuary policy, his homeless takeover (we inherit the highest percentage of homeless from other states). We welcome them by being a sanctuary states with good weather. Other states simply send them here on a one way bus ticket because we can “take care of them” with our Sanctuary policy. We attract lawlessness with illegal immigration and all that that entails. These politicians in NY, Chicago, Hawaii, and California all have a common thread. Run by incompetent, corrupt and inept Democratic/Progressives. Is it any wonder everyone wants to get the hell out that is smart enough to see the ship is listing? I hope all of the awful progressives, useless millennials, and grumpy Trump haters stay here and decay along with their surroundings ala a “Hoarder” episode where they can’t see what is really happening around them, a state of denial. It is so progressive, so green and so socially conscious.

  4. Yes.
    Californians have proven they are carriers of the Progressive plague.

  5. Matt Slagg says

    Being born in California and a Extreme Right Conservative I have managed to create a paradise in California by having a business that relies on the thriving underground economy and the fact that as an all cash business for 30 + years I don’t hire women, Gays or illegals. And work only with like minded Conservatives. No paper trail….. Have built a well armed high security home and network.. Ready and willing to face whatever comes my way… Not moving ever

  6. It’s no secret that Newsom has his eyes set on the 2024 Presidential elections. He wants to take his California “disaster” nationwide. Hopefully his personal policies will sink his boat along with the States’ economy, before 2024.

  7. I cannot understand clear-thinking conservative Californians fleeing “paradise” for less-than places. It did not have to be this way, but it reflects the reason we find ourselves in such a situation.

    For the last 30-40 years, instead of standing up and being politically active and fighting fraud, waste and abuse right here in “local” politics, Conservatives/Republicans have been too “busy” and too “cool” to stop and stand for their freedoms and law and order under their Constitutional guarantees. To this day, they still prefer to run than speak up, stand and fight. And so, California is now the new wasteland?

    I think not. All progressive threats and actions are Unlawful and Unconstitutional, and are obviously hurting this entire Country and cannot be allowed to stand. There will be a day soon when those in the right and on the Right will begin to STOP this insanity. I believe our President will effectively use the dysfunction of California as a real-time comparison to Conservative policy in his campaign platform for his re-election 2020.

    No place to run – no place to hide. If you want to see all of America look like Velenzuela II, then run and do not stand for the values you believe in. But you will find what you are running from wherever you go.

    • TheRandyGuy says

      Aprila: I read comments like yours occasionally, namely that conservatives don’t “fight” for what they believe in. Wrong. We are outvoted by those seeking a handout. it is strictly a numbers thing, has nothing to do with a reluctance to stand up against liberalism. Don’t believe me? Look at the area where CA ex-pats move in mass and see how quickly they go leftist. It’s an invasion and an occupation. Nothing more than that.

  8. Some of the strongest conservatives I’ve ever known live in California, unfortunately there’s not enough of us anymore.

  9. Gotta Gedada Displace says

    I’M Bailing the ‘Asylum State’ leaving my house equity behind for the moment, but if YOU are lucky enough to make a clean break, IT IS YOUR DUTY TO YOURSELF AND YOUR NEW STATE to let as many new state neighbors and friends know WHY you left and WHY THEY are NEXT if THEY don’t VOTE to STOP Californication at the State border ! If you just sit back and enjoy your escape, your rest will be ONLY TEMPORARY util Progressive DESTRUCTION finds you (and them) AGAIN ! Freedom AIN’T FREE !

    • Gotta Gedada Displace says

      Sorry, commenters above,— for ME, the simple math is TOO far gone and I personally have been fighting for decades. Overwhelming D registration + Top 2 / Ballot harvesting/ dirty voter rolls Unchallenged + Titanic deck chair rearrangement by State GOP —– TO ME = live to fight another day ELSEWHERE.

  10. Without a doubt the “Stinking Thinking” is leaving the state and yes moving to conservative states. The election cycle prove it-those once consecutive are losing to the liberals. Masked me hope there is hope for California/eventually! Can I hold out is questionable.

  11. All the seeming terrible problems that plague California can be rectified since they are all based on corruption and unconstitutional unAmerican policy, mostly tauted by , including progressive media and progressive and failed public schools and colleges. This can all be considered temporary, all quickly taking place in other states, since they are national problems, not state problems. Good luck in your new homes.

    I suggest that ALL Conservatives that love California or those who always aspired to live in California return and register to vote for the next election.

    What is happening is unprecedented and extreme. If left to continue, you will be standing erect and saluting first thing in the morning instead of having your coffee. Can you not see the big picture here? Big changes are inevitable in this extreme environment.

    • showandtell says

      Yes, thank you Aprila, this is our HOME. I sure don’t want to beat up those who have to leave because CA is too expensive, but it seems to me that most who are leaving are not in that desperate position. Please stay here and FIGHT! In the scheme of things, the situation now is VERY temporary, as Aprila has pointed out, even though it seems to us that we’ve been living with it forever.

  12. SHANE CONWAY says

    The liberal takeover of American society has been ongoing for decades. Many of us have been sounding the alarms for years, but have not been taken seriously. California was once a good place to live with traditional American values and politically conservative. But there has been an influx of east coast liberals coming in and slowly destroying what once was a virtuous American powerhouse.

    Many of the elected officials in California have roots in places like New Jersey and New York. Nancy Pelosi is on transplant. Many Mayors and city councilmen are from other places. Ask your assemblyman/woman where they moved from and how long they have lived here.

    In the 1970s many Californians moved to Oregon. That was supposed to be a paradise where you could move to and live free and be left alone. But as most of you know, Oregon is just an annex of California. Drug, homelessness and violent leftwing protests are now the norm in Oregon, especially the Portland area. Today, leftwing extremist organizations like MoveOn.org are actively recruiting liberal like-minded people to relocate to rural conservative areas like Idaho, Wyoming or Montana to effect change there.

    Liberalism is truly a defective state of mind. I would even say it is a mental illness. I consider myself to be a refugee who fled from California. I have been ashamed to say I was from California for many years now. I moved out within weeks after retiring and have not been back since. Nor do I voluntarily do any business with anyone from California. When given a choice, I buy from businesses not located there.

    It is so important to relocate without trying to impose the California mentality on your new neighbors. If you do, you will not be accepted or liked. If you are leaving California, do so for the right reasons, not to perpetuate socialism and export societal degradation.

  13. At this time I will define “political policy. Political policy means Democrats.

  14. My two cents:
    Question to most of the commenters above is:

    What you don’t appreciate about liberal public schools and liberal colleges all over this country for many years, and the negative effects of eight years of Obama, as well as a media that is acting as part of the DNC is the national influence and effects.

    Do you think this is not a problem wherever you go? California, like NY, like Chicago, like Vermont, like many other states, including Hawaii are all problem state governments, affected by liberal policy and liberal thinking, largely brought about by schools/colleges and the lame stream media.

    What I did not hear above is any comment to the huge POSITIVE actions that are going on in our country right now! That is, a President who is winning, winning, winning, and will win some more!!!

    He is genius and sees what is happening. And he will affect a change ASAP when re-elected in a big way. He already is taking many important steps to equalizing the insanity going on, and is part of the news each day and his rallies.

    I would think that those reading this newsletter would be more conscious of the positive effects on our country that are very important. Now is not the time to cut and run, but the time to stand up and fight, and support the President and his policies that are winning, winning, winning!

  15. Janet Schultz says

    NO! That is why they are leaving this godforsaken state.

  16. The issue is that the CAGOP should focus on CA issues only and stop supporting issues like Trump, gun control, abortion and other similar issues that CA voters simply do not support. There are many, many CA voter who are fiscally conservative that do not like what’s going on in CA. They want a check on the super majority in Sacramento, they want less taxes, they want an end to sanctuary mania, the want and end to all the PC initiatives that endlessly come out of Sacramento and SF. If the CAGOP doens’t get its act together they will be irrelevant and we will need a 3rd party to save CA

    • MAGA and Federal government/President Trump to the rescue.
      Just wait and see. In fact, it has already started in a big way. He is setting the background and groundwork for what is to come!

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