Timothy P. Carney
If you consult the likes of Paul Krugman or MSNBC, you’ll hear that Texas, Florida, and Georgia are failed states, run into the ground by right-wing ideologues.
Krugman points to Texas as an “indicator of the moral and intellectual collapse of American conservatism.” Democratic former congressman Beto O’Rourke has produced headlines such as this: “Beto O’Rourke: ‘We are nearing a failed state in Texas’ due to Republican leaders.”
And if you like Georgia, Texas, or Florida, it’s probably because you’re a white racist who likes white supremacist policies, the narrative goes.
It might be jarring, then, for these New York-based commentators to open an ideologically friendly news outlet in Austin and see this headline: “People of color make up 95% of Texas’ population growth.”
Texas gained the most black people, nearly 700,000, of any state in the country. Georgia and Florida were second and third place, increasing their black populations by 450,000 and 390,000, respectively. All three states were governed by Republican governors with Republican-run legislatures throughout the decade. Texas saw its black population grow by 23% while Georgia and Florida saw 15% and 13% growth respectively.
The largest Democrat-run states, New York, Illinois, and California, saw nothing of the sort. Illinois’s black population shrunk. California and New York saw such small black population growth that black people became even smaller minorities in those states.
To be sure, Florida also saw its non-Hispanic black population shrink relative to the entire population, but only because the state added 1.47 million Hispanics over the decade.
In short, if you were a person of color in the United States over the past decade, especially a black person, looking to move or have children, the GOP-run states of Texas, Florida, and Georgia were the most attractive places to live.
Surely this suggests that conservative Republican governance creates desirable conditions for nonwhite Americans.
When I posited this on Twitter, I got a few unhappy responses.
But California saw smaller Hispanic growth as a percentage of its population than did Florida or Texas, and it saw black people become a smaller share of its population. So yes, California started the decade with lots of black and Hispanic people, but it didn’t attract them as Texas and Florida did.
Here’s one liberal reaction:
Now, it’s possible that governance has nothing to do with the desirability of living in a place, but that hardly seems like a progressive position.
Progressives and centrist Democrats are entitled to run California, New York, and Illinois in the way they see fit. They are entitled to curse low taxes, lower costs of living, and the absence of state-enforced woke ideology. But if they actually care about helping people of color, maybe they should take a cue from Texas and Florida and Georgia, which are evidently providing black and Hispanic people with what they want.