Skip to content

Scoreboard: Florida vs. California by the Numbers

Governors Ron DeSantis and Gavin Newsom have verbally sparred numerous times in the past, but what do the numbers say about life in each state?

California and Florida are on opposite sides of the country, and their governors are on  opposite ends of the political spectrum. Perhaps the only thing the two “heads of state” have in common – Gavin Newsom in California and Ron DeSantis in Florida – is that they both have endured plenty of criticism over the last two years. The governors’ opposing COVID policies and stances on various social issues have made national headlines.


On numerous occasions, the two governors have attacked one another. Last week, Newsom pledged $100,000 to support Rep. Charlie Crist’s campaign, saying he wants to “make DeSantis a one-term governor,” and calling the Florida governor a “bully.”

Meanwhile, in July, DeSantis took shots at Newsom for his widely publicized dinner at the high-end restaurant The French Laundry, during which the California governor was caught violating state protocols on indoor mask requirements.

“As he was locking down his citizens, he would then go and have these extravagant dinners at The French Laundry to basically rub his citizens’ noses in the fact he was treating them like peasants,” DeSantis said.


Vaccines — California mandated COVID vaccines for healthcare workers, while state employees and anyone participating in an event with more than 1,000 people were required to undergo testing if unvaccinated, according to Last November, Florida restricted local governments, public schools and private businesses from requiring vaccination for employees and customers.

Masking — California lifted its state-wide mask mandate in March 2022, while Florida prohibited mask mandates at schools in July 2021.

Restaurant Capacity — Newsom kept state-wide limitations on restaurant capacity in place through June 2021. DeSantis lifted restrictions for all restaurants in September 2020.

Schooling — Among all 50 states, Florida had the third highest in-person index during the 2021–2022 academic year, according to Burbio’s tracker. California had the lowest.


Housing — The average mortgage payments are $880 higher in California than Florida, according to U.S. Census data. Rent is also significantly higher in the Golden State, by an average difference of $368. Additionally, the homeownership rate is 13 percent higher in Florida than California.

Taxes — California has the highest income taxes and sales tax rate in America. Conversely, Florida is one of just nine states with no state income tax, and carries the 17th highest sales tax, according to

Transportation — In 2019, Business Insider reported that Florida ranks 7th lowest on the list of average costs for transportation, while California was the 11th highest. Ramsey Solutions’ analysis of data from the Council for Community and Economic Research found that California has the highest transportation costs in the country.

Employment — Florida’s unemployment rate is currently 2.7 percent, compared to 3.9 percent in California. The national rate is 3.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In July, ranked five Florida cities in the top 25 for job growth nationwide, including three of the top five and four of the top 10. California had four cities in the top 25, all of them falling between 17 and 25 in the rankings.

Crime — Based on the FBI’s violent crime data, USA Today ranked California the 14th most dangerous state, while Florida came in at 21.

Homelessness — California has more homeless residents than any other state, with over 161,500 comprising 0.41 percent of the Golden State’s population, according to LendingTree’s analysis of HUD data from earlier this year. Florida ranks third overall with just under 27,500, which is 0.13 percent of the Sunshine State’s population. Additionally, only 29.64 percent of California’s homeless population reside in shelters, while that figure is 53.9 percent in Florida.


Although an attempt to oust Newsom from his position via a recall election last September failed, many Californians have expressed their disapproval by moving out of the state.

Florida saw the sharpest rise of all 50 states in net migration from 2020 to 2021, adding 259,000 residents, according to U.S. Census data. During that same time period, Los Angeles County lost 179,757 residents.

Recent polling backs up the numbers behind Florida’s popularity as well. Rasmussen Reports found that Florida is the most desirable state to live in for Americans. The Sunshine State tallied 7 percent more responses than California among American adults who were asked which state they would most like to move to.