Fact Check: Newsom Claims More Floridians Moving to California than Vice Versa

DeSantis vs. Newsom (Christian Monterrosa / AFP via Getty)
Christian Monterrosa / AFP via Getty

CLAIM: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said more Floridians have moved to California in the past two years than vice versa.

VERDICT: MOSTLY FALSE. The raw numbers favor Florida. Newsom is relying on a “per capita” migration rate.

Newsom debated Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on the Fox News Channel in a much-anticipated matchup. Host Sean Hannity asked the governors to explain why there is net migration from “blue” Democratic states to “red” Republican states. Newsom then claimed that over the past two years, there has been net migration from Florida to California. DeSantis seemed rather stunned.

First, it is undoubtedly true that there is net migration from blue to red — a fact Newsom did not want to discuss. It is also true that Florida is a major destination for blue state migrants, especially from New York.

So what about Florida-California traffic?

Here’s what Newsom’s hometown newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, said on Thursday:

It’s true that more Californians are moving to other U.S. states than are moving in, and that a greater number of people are moving into Florida than are leaving. In 2022, California lost 340,000 more people to other states and Puerto Rico than it gained. Florida, by contrast, gained about 250,000 — a large share of which was a result of migration from New York.

The flow between California and Florida also favors the latter state. About 50,700 Californians became Florida residents from 2021 to 2022, according to data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. That’s 22,100 more than the 28,600 Florida residents who moved to California.

Also Thursday, the Sacramento Bee — the newspaper of record in the state capital — ran a story with the headline: “Record number of people are fleeing California for Florida. Will DeSantis use it against Newsom?”

The article went on to say:

New data from the census bureau show that more people left California for Florida in 2022 than in any year going back to at least 2005.

An estimated 37,464 people left California for Florida in 2021, while 24,692 headed this way – a net gain of about 13,000 residents for Florida. The exodus to the southeast increased even more last year, the data shows.

So what’s the basis for Newsom’s claim?

Newsom appears to be citing “per capita” migration, which favors California because it is about twice as populous as Florida.

Politifact Florida recently explained: “Jennifer Lynne Van Hook, director of the Population Research Institute at Penn State University, reviewed 2021 Census data, the latest available, and calculated that 1.16 per 1,000 Floridians moved to California in 2021 and 0.96 Californians moved to Florida that year.”

But it went on to note: “In raw numbers, close to 13,000 more Californians moved to Florida than the other way around. However, this does not account for the states’ population sizes. California has about 17 million more residents than Florida. And Newsom specified he was citing ‘per capita’ data.”

So Newsom has to reframe the raw numbers to make his point. But he misses the overall point: California is losing residents, and Florida is gaining them. He may not want to face the reasons for that, but he may as well admit that it is actually happening.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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