By Francisco Gonzalez, JMI Development Director
Often here at the Institute, I hear our President Bob McClure recite these words. His thesis is this: people want to live free. Americans have always been a people on the move. But in today’s world, being over-taxed and over-regulated play a large role in where people decide to live. The history of economics tells us people are motivated by incentives.With that in mind, there should be no surprise in today’s release of the U.S. Census numbers. One of the main purposes of the census is to count the population of the country, state by state, every ten years. This “realigns the map” by reapportioning the appropriate number of Congressional seats each state is delegated based on their population. That means states with larger populations not only have more representation in the U.S. House of Representatives, but also have more electoral votes in Presidential races. Today’s announcement makes this an important factor for the upcoming 2012 Presidential race.Florida picked up two seats today. Although our population slightly decreased in 2009 for the first time in its history, there was a net increase since the year 2000. And with New York losing two seats, this now makes Florida and New York equally represented with 27 members of Congress and 29 electoral votes for President. South Floridians will probably not be surprised, as the “movement” of New Yorkers to the Sunshine State has been going on for years. The census data now reflects actual life. The only other states with larger representation remain California and Texas.Yet for the first time since it gained statehood, California did not gain any House seats. Meanwhile, Texas was the big winner. The “Lone Star State” gained four new seats, increasing its representation in Congress to 36 members. It will now also have 38 votes in the Electoral College. While California remains the largest state in population, with 53 congressional seats and 55 electoral votes, its long history of growth has finally leveled off. Many California residents continue to flee the “Golden State,” and its population has remained level mostly due to increased immigration. With a budget crisis, high taxes, unaffordable living, and increased regulation on business, Americans are voting with their feet: they are no longer California Dreamin’.South Carolina, Georgia, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and Washington all picked up seats, while Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and Louisiana all lost seats. For the most part, the states with freer economies were the winners. Florida’s current leadership should look to the contrasting public policies of the only two larger states, Texas and California, and the movement away from states like New York, which continue to lose population. We know the American people are choosing to live free through their migration patterns. The big question is: which direction will Florida go over the next ten years?