7 Maps Showing How Conservatives are Losing “the War” Against California

The Flag of California republic in the picture

by Alex Gonzalez

Donald Trump and Conservatives think tanks in D.C. love bashing California and painting the state as a “socialist hellhole and forecast apocalyptic predictions with usual Republican party propaganda arguing that people are “fleeing” the state;  yet  the Golden State is standing tall and leading the nation with strong  economic output, innovation, a healthy population growth and high minimum wages.

California is a heavily urban majority-minority coastal state where it’s legal to smoke pot, the state is  a “sanctuary state” where cops cannot ask suspects their immigration status, undocumented workers can legally obtain Driver Licenses, taxes are high and the first year of community college is free; this year the Legislature is planning it to increase it to  two years free community college; all these policies, conservatives argue, will drive the state off the cliff. But California is doing “awesome” and California is in much sounder fiscal shape; while federal deficits are soaring again, the state has erased its red ink and even stashed $13 billion in a rainy day fund.

One of the most draconian predictions that conservatives like  of the Heritage Foundation constantly argue is that the state has been losing population due to its high taxes and too much immigration – Hispanics/Mexican-Americans – as a result, “whites” are leaving to other states like Arizona and Texas. But, as the new  Stanford  research shows, those who leave are lower income, but the state also gains higher income educated residents and “both in absolute terms, and compared to sensible control groups, we find little migration response to changes in top tax rates,” the study concludes. Moreover, according to new population  data by Pew Trust, California has a 0.15% better population increase at 0.78% than the national average at 63%. The population of California  has increased to almost 40 million (39, 557,000) currently from 36,600,000 million in 2008 – see population growth map below.

These are the states with fastest and slowest population growth (2008-18): 1) Utah, 2) Texas, 3) Colorado, 4) North Dakota.

While the population growth in California is not as big as that of Texas and Utah, the 0.78% is still much better that many states in the South and the Rustbelt where states have in fact lost population – see map below to see states that lost population since 2008.

The second frequent argument against California by “conservative” pundits is that the high number of immigrants and high taxes was going to push out business leading to economic decline. However, the state continued to boom at higher rates than most Red states, including those with lower taxes and no state taxes.  The Brookings interactive geography of prosperity map below shows that California has stronger “Vitality Index” than any other state in the country.

Vitality Index to see how your county & state stack up: https://brook.gs/2H7xYQf

Furthermore, the areas in California that are thriving with the strongest economic “vitality” rate are in the coastal and metro areas.  See the  interactive map shows that Coastal Counties have strongest “economic vitality.” But, these coastal areas in particular are what conservatives used to predict will suffer the greater economic calamities and lead to “socialism,” or “third-world” status because of Millennial, Hispanics, Immigrants and high minimum wages.

But, despite the big effort by D.C. think tanks who ardently to argue that $15 per hour – used to be the argument against $12 per hr –  is bad for business and that it leads to high unemployment, the data shows that coastal areas where $15 per hour is already mandatory, unemployment in California is the lowest and these areas also show the strongest economic vitality (see map below). Moreover, These areas are also immigrant-rich areas where large numbers of those workers who benefit are immigrants. Below are the stats by U.S. labor department from 2018 last quarter showing where unemployment is chronic in California despite the 4.2% unemployment statewide rate. The three biggest Bay Area cities already have $15 minimum wage ordinances, yet, the unemployment rate is in the 0 to 2.% rate and these areas are where the job market is more competitive and there is an economic boom.
Despite the big effort by conservative think tanks, experts and Republicans claiming that $15 per hour is bad for business and that it leads to high unemployment, the data shows that coastal areas where $15 per hour is already mandatory, unemployment in is the lowest.
California is America’s largest state economy.
Even Conservative think tanks like American Enterprise Institute (AEI) now have recognize that California is now the world’s fifth-largest economy, up from eighth a decade ago,  producing nearly $3 trillion of economic output in 2018, more than the United Kingdom’s GDP last year of $2.8 trillion. Consider this: California has a labor force of 19.6 million compared to the labor force in the UK of 34 million (World Bank data here). Amazingly, it required a labor force 75% larger (and 14.5 million more people) in the UK to produce the same economic output last year as California! That’s a testament to the superior, world-class productivity of the American worker. Further, California as a separate country would have been the 5th largest economy in the world last year, ahead of the UK ($2.81 trillion), France ($2.79 trillion) and India ($2.61 trillion).

Voter restrictions have been another favored policies to attack California with blatant unsubstantiated accusations of “illegal” voter registration. Restricting voters registration and voters suppression is very popular in red states and Republican party propaganda, but California continues registering new voters at record numbers; and in 2018 mid-term, the state had its largest turnout since 1982. The conservative argument has always making it easier to vote would lead to voter fraud, yet no evidence exists showing to support such claims.  In the nearly three months since elections dogged by accusations of voter suppression, state lawmakers across the country have either filed or pre-filed at least 230 bills that would expand access to the ballot for millions of Americans, including same-day registration, and California is leading the effort.

In a similar fashion As Trump and his wall push Mexico away and build a wall, California aims to pull it closer. 

Along with a commitment to reopen a trade office in Mexico City, the governor also plans to revitalize a state commission that would allow California officials to work on issues with their counterparts in Mexican government. And over the course of his first term, Newsom and state Democrats are expected to refocus attention on what they consider the real issues at the heart of the U.S.-Mexico relationship: tackling cross-border pollution, promoting cultural and educational exchanges, and defending the human rights of all immigrants.

And you can read more about how the economy of California is only getting stronger, and how its demographics and diverse economy plays a big role in it. Higher education, a dynamic immigrant labor force, high tech and agriculture is the real source of the state; and  while California has plenty of problems, “from worsening wildfires to overpriced housing to that troubled bullet-train project that became the latest target of presidential mockery, there’s one serious hitch in the GOP plan to make California a symbol of Democratic dysfunction and socialistic stagnation: It’s basically thriving.”


Alex Gonzalez is a political Analyst, Founder of Latino Public Policy Foundation (LPPF), and Political Director for Latinos Ready To Vote. Comments to [email protected] or @AlexGonzTXCA