The governors of the nation’s four largest states, California, Texas, Florida, and New York, face voters in 2022. Beyond determining who will occupy governors’ offices, these contests will shape our nation’s direction in the coming years. The four “mega-states” have established rival and increasingly polarized visions of state government–one blue, the other red. California and New York have become national catalysts for progressive policies, while Texas and Florida have become the most powerful advocates of conservative alternatives. Their governors–Gavin Newsom (D-CA), Kathy Hochul (D-NY), Greg Abbott (R-TX), and Ron DeSantis (R-FL)–have come to embody these states’ highly partisan models. This election thus provides voters in the four states an opportunity to judge not only their governors, but also the blue or red agendas they represent. Moreover, the elections may give momentum to at least two of these governors–Newsom and DeSantis–to sell their states’ competing visions to the nation by running for president in 2024.
Using new survey data, this report highlights four main findings.
- The governors of all four states have positioned themselves to win reelection in 2022 by retaining the support of members of their state’s dominant party, rendering opposition by people outside that party largely irrelevant.
- The four governors are on track to win reelection even though a large share of their constituents are dissatisfied with recent economic and social trends.
- Many residents of these states are considering moving elsewhere, most frequently those (such as Republicans in California and New York) who disagree with their state’s dominant political orientation. Many are interested in moving to a place where their neighbors would have political and policy preferences closer to their own.
- After their expected reelections, at least two of these governors–DeSantis and Newsom–are positioned to carry their states’ policy visions into a national competition for the presidency.