Americans disagree about California. And at least part of the argument hinges on politics.
Republicans don’t think much of California; Democrats like the place.
According to a recent YouGov study, Republicans list California as the worst state. Only Washington D. C., which is not a state, ranks below California in Republicans’ estimation.
In a series of head-to-head match-ups, YouGov asked 1,211 U.S. adults to choose the better of two states from a list of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. California, home to nearly 40 million people, topped the other state in Republican preference a mere 24 percent of the time. (Florida won the Republican popularity sweepstakes.)
We have Hollywood, which gave the world “Gone with the Wind,” “Casablanca” and “Plan 9 From Outer Space;” Marilyn Monroe, Ronald Reagan and the Zasu Pitts Memorial Orchestra.
According to Republicans, the worst states, along with bottom-dwelling California, are Massachusetts (33%), Oregon (32%), Wisconsin (31% and New Jersey (29%).
Democrats were far more comforting. California won 79% of its state-vs.-state matchups, second only to Hawaii’s 80%.
Among Democrats, the worst states were Iowa (31%), North Dakota (28%), Mississippi (27%), Alabama (27%), and Arkansas (25%)
Every state in the Democrats’ top 17 voted for Joe Biden in the presidential election
Biden aside, California has lots of things going for it. We have Hollywood, which gave the world “Gone with the Wind,” “Casablanca” and “Plan 9 From Outer Space;” Marilyn Monroe, Ronald Reagan and the Zasu Pitts Memorial Orchestra.
There’s a downside, of course: Sirhan Sirhan, smog, fires, droughts, traffic, the People’s Temple and, of course, the Manson family. “Some people think California is a land of kill-crazy cultists,” one observer noted years ago.
Not content with Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Californians sent movie song-and-dance man George Murphy to the U. S. Senate and Sonny Bono of Sonny and Cher to the House.
Folks from across the country have a horror of California’s larger-then-life natural disasters. Talk with someone in, say, western New York state as the author did recently, about horrific snowstorms and you’ll get an instant reply: “Sure. But what about your earthquakes?” They also point out that California is the third most expensive place to live in the United States, beaten only by the District of Columbia and Hawaii.
Our habit of occasionally electing movie stars as governor also draws raised eyebrows, if not sneers, although California movie star Reagan, a two-term governor, was elected president twice, carrying California each time. Reagan had no fewer than 81 movies under his belt before coming to Sacramento, a fact his political adversaries used against him. (Didn’t work.)
Not content with Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Californians sent movie song-and-dance man George Murphy to the U. S. Senate and Sonny Bono of Sonny and Cher to the House. After Bono died, his wife was elected to Congress. We’re steeped in Hollywood. For better or for worse, among both Democrats and Republicans across the Midwest, South and East Coasts, it’s a common belief that every Californian has an unfinished screenplay somewhere in the house.
Driving north in Interstate 5 just below the Oregon line, motorists can see a barn with “Jefferson” printed in very large letters on the roof.
Silicon Valley, like Hollywood, is a go-go California invention that has in the minds of many California-haters caused no end of problems. It may have connected the world and made billions for investors, but it also allowed the rapid spread of disinformation and created websites that are beyond belief.
Californians do have one undeniable advantage over citizens of the other 49 states, Democrats note. With Democrats enjoying supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature, a Democratic governor and a heavily Democratic congressional delegation, Republicans have pretty much written off presidential campaigning here, meaning Californians do not have to sit through endless political ads interrupting their favorite Hollywood-gossip television programs.
However, that doesn’t stop candidates, Democrat and Republican alike, from doing major fund-raising here. An “ATM machine” for political campaigns is a common characterization of California.
But there are rebels.
Driving north in Interstate 5 just below the Oregon line, motorists can see a barn with “Jefferson” printed in very large letters on the roof. That’s about all that’s left of the proposal to create a new, more right-wing state – Jefferson — out of several Northern California and Southern Oregon counties. No movie stars were involved.
California being California, it’s likely that people across the country will continue to look askance at the Golden State.
We’ll tell ourselves it’s just another form of envy.
Editor’s Note: Chuck McFadden, a former journalist and communications executive, is a regular contributor to Capitol Weekly.