Picking the President in 2024

By Bob Hazard   |   February 28, 2023

Political pundits still predict a polarizing presidential prizefight in 2024 between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. It seems inconceivable that voters of either party want a rematch between two tired octogenarians. Trump would be 79, Biden 82. John F. Kennedy was 43 when elected to the Oval Office. How does one choose between the divisiveness and boorish behavior of Donald Trump, and the senility and incompetency of Joe Biden? 

Gov. Ron DeSantis vs. Gov. Gavin Newsom 

The stage is set in 2024 for a more intelligent race between Gov. Ron DeSantis (FL) and Gov. Gavin Newsom (CA). Voters are hungry for a problem-solver president who can work across the aisle and find solutions that appeal to moderates in both parties. 

Democrats hold a major advantage with 48 million registered voters, or 39%. Republicans lag at 36 million registered voters (29%), while registered Independents have soared to 35 million voters (28%) in a virtual tie with GOP voters.

What Will Be the Issues in 2024?

Hopefully, in 2024 voters and the two major candidates—one red and one blue—will be looking at the same set of facts and offering realistic solutions to fund economic growth; reduced inflation; lower unemployment; downsized national debt; a stronger military; greater trust in government; creation of a rational border security system; and reduced drug use and crime. Add in a willingness to address a reliably funded Social Security and Medicaid/Medicare and a fiscally responsible welfare and entitlement system. 

State governments will have to boost budgets for needed infrastructure, improve education, support school choice, offer reliable and affordable energy that addresses climate change, solve homelessness, compromise on abortion and ensure election integrity. 

California vs. Florida

Fortunately, 2024 voters will have a public record of how Newsom and DeSantis have governed in the living laboratory of their respective states:

Cost of Living: The cost of living in California is the 3rd-highest in the nation, behind Hawaii and tied with New York. Florida is much less expensive; the cost of living is just one percent higher than the national average.

Cost of Housing: In California, the median single-family home price in 2021 was $898,980, according to Statista. Much of the blame for excessive costs is attributed to California’s punitive regulation environment. The median home price in Florida in 2021 was $348,000. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in California is $2,000 per month; in Florida it is $1,670. 

Cost of Gasoline/Transportation: At Thanksgiving, AAA reported that Florida motorists paid $3.41 per gallon for gasoline, 18 cents below the national average of $3.59. Conversely, California motorists paid $5.11 per gallon, second-highest to Hawaii at $5.19 per gallon, and 42% above the national average price of $3.59 per gallon, according to CBS News. Californians pay 72.4 cents per gallon in state and local taxes and fees, the highest in the nation. A monthly public transit pass costs $67.83 in California and $50.97 in Florida; 33% higher in California.

Taxation: Florida is the place to go if you want to keep more income. Florida has no state income tax, a big draw for retirees. California residents pay some of the highest taxes in the country, with a state personal income tax that peaks at 13.3%. According to the Tax Foundation, California has an average state and local tax burden of 13.5% that ranks 46th out of 50 states; Florida has a 9.1% state and local tax burden that ranks No. 11 in the United States.

Sales and Use Taxes: Florida has a state sales tax of 6% with an option for local governments to add up to 1.5%. This brings the combined sales tax in the Sunshine State to 7.058%, about average for the nation. California levies a 7.25% sales tax, the highest statewide rate in the nation. Local governments are permitted to levy an additional 2% sales tax, creating a combined average sales tax rate of 8.82%.

Business Taxes: California had an 8.84% corporate income tax rate in the year 2022, according to the Tax Foundation. California ranked No. 48 out of 50 states, slightly ahead of New York (49) and New Jersey (50) in business taxes. Conversely, the flat 5.5% Florida business tax ranked fifth-lowest in the U.S. If you’re planning to start a business, Florida offers a better deal. 

Child Care Costs: Childcare is one of the biggest expenses for working parents. In over half of states, full-time care for an infant can cost more than college tuition, according to Child Care Aware of America. Childcare in California costs 11.7% of a married couple’s income, fifth worst in the nation. Childcare in Florida is more affordable at 8.3% of a married couple’s income.

Government Regulations:California consistently ranks last, 50 out of 50 states, for the ease of doing business. Florida consistently ranks among the best states for business, thanks to its pro-business state policies, competitive costs of doing business and a streamlined regulatory environment. Florida’s regulatory agencies and local governments provide quicker, less costly, and more predictable permitting processes for significant economic development projects.

Homelessness:California reports a homeless population of 161,548, highest in the nation. Florida reports a homeless population of 27,487, almost six times lower. However, California has a total population of 40 million, almost twice the size of Florida at 22 million. If Florida had 40 million residents, not 22 million, its homeless count would be 49,976 compared to the 161,548 homeless in California. San Francisco and Los Angeles are the poster children for high-visibility garbage-strewn tent cities with their associated panhandling, drug addiction, mental issues, public intoxication, and public urination.

Unemployment Rate: Florida’s unemployment rate dropped to 2.5% in December 2022, a full percentage point better than the national average of 3.5%, despite enduring two hurricanes in late 2022. That is fourth-best in the nation behind Utah, North Dakota, and South Dakota. California’s unemployment rate for the same period was 4.1%, 39th-best in the country, but better than New York (4.3%), Illinois (4.7%), and District of Columbia (4.7%).

Illegal Immigration: California wholeheartedly embraces illegal immigration and supports open borders, amnesty, sanctuary cities, and state and federal benefits paid to illegal aliens. Newsom not only wants to extend healthcare and other government benefits to illegal aliens, but he has no interest whatsoever in complying with federal immigration law. Florida, like President Barack Obama in his 2013 State of the Union address, vowed to send illegal immigrants “to the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally.” DeSantis says that Florida has a responsibility to stand up for the rule of law on immigration. He calls Florida “a refuge of sanity and a citadel of freedom.”

Demographic Growth: In 2022, Florida became the nation’s fastest-growing state with a 1.9% population increase, due to a healthy blend of net domestic in-migration, net international in-migration, and natural born increases. Florida has experienced positive growth every year since 1946. At the other end of the scale, California ranked dead last in net migration; 300,000 people moved out of California in 2022, the most of any state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This was the third-consecutive annual decline for California. In the last 10 years, California has lost 1.625 million residents to other states.

Make the Choice

Should public elementary schools teach critical race theory of racial and ethnic class conflict? California says yes, Florida says no. Should gas be $4 a gallon? California says yes, Florida says no. Should homeless people be allowed to turn public spaces into tent cities? California says yes, Florida says no. Should biological males be allowed to dominate girls’ sports? Florida says no. California not only says yes, but it is punishing Florida by forbidding California employees to take state-funded trips to Florida, as well as 16 other states. 

To win, Newsom must dominate his natural constituencies — the powerful liberal media, teachers’ and other public and private sector’s unions, the education establishment, government workers, Hollywood, progressives, socialists, and big corporations seeking to buy protection and favored status. 

To win, DeSantis needs to win the support of working-class voters, recapture the vote of suburban women who hated Donald Trump, and make greater inroads with minorities and marginalized groups. 

Civility in Political Discourse

LA Times Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial correspondent Michael Hiltzik recently labeled Florida Republican Gov. DeSantis, as “the tin-pot thug of Florida politics.”That seems a bit harsh to describe the man who in November 2022 carried the Florida governor’s race by the largest margin in 40 years with wins in 62 of 67 Florida counties, including normally Democrat-controlled Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties.

Last summer, in a cross-country shouting match, Gov. Newsom said of DeSantis: “We are as different as daylight and darkness.” The California governor called DeSantis a bully, a fraud, an authoritarian, a fake conservative, a betrayer of Ronald Reagan’s legacy, and several times “DeSantos.”

In November 2022, Newsom carried the California governor’s race by winning 25 of 58 California counties. Big pluralities in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego sealed the outcome. By dominating the coastal communities, which make up 68% of California’s population, Newsom won convincingly. Both DeSantis and Newsom are rising stars in their respective parties.

Let the race begin… but keep it clean!  


You might also be interested in...