The Anti-DeSantis Emerges

A dark horse candidate for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination has been identified: Minnesota Governor Tim Walz. If that sounds far-fetched, consider this Daily Beast puff piece: “Minnesota’s Gov. Tim Walz Is the Anti-DeSantis. Dems Should Take Note.”

It is actually true that Walz is the anti-DeSantis. His policies are the negative image of Florida’s governor’s. But you would have to be deeply delusional to think that the comparison is somehow favorable to Tim Walz. At the American Experiment site, economist John Phelan assesses the Daily Beast’s endorsement of Walz:

Minnesotans might find their eyebrows shooting off the tops of their heads as they read this article. We are told that Gov. Walz “reacted with a veteran NCO’s doggedness after Minnesota cops killed George Floyd in May 2020.” He did not, in fact, do any such thing. As we wrote in Summer 2020, regarding the abandonment of the Third precinct in Minneapolis:

“I will assume responsibility,” Walz admitted the next day. “I, if the issue was the state should’ve moved faster, yeah, that is on me.”

You may applaud such candor, but we must also recognize it as an admission of abject failure in dealing with one of the two major challenges in his first term as Minnesota’s governor.

How about the “achievements” that the Beast credits to Governor Walz?

In policy terms, Walz might well be the ‘anti-DeSantis’ and this is a comparison Walz himself has invited. The trouble is that Americans seem to prefer what Florida governor Ron DeSantis is selling.

Census Bureau data show that since the two men took office in January 2019, 43,531 Minnesotans have, on net, fled Walz’ Minnesota to live elsewhere in the United States. As Figure 1 shows, DeSantis’ Florida, by contrast, has attracted a staggering 853,720 residents from elsewhere in the United States (The ‘It’s the Weather’ crowd might like to note that both Wisconsin and South Dakota have seen net inflows over this period).

Even more galling for the ‘Draft Walz’ movement is that even Minnesotans seem to prefer what DeSantis has to offer. Internal Revenue Service data show where Americans have moved from and to. As Figure 2 shows, for 2019-2010 – the only year of their two tenures for which we have data so far – Walz’ Minnesota lost, on net, 3,921 residents to DeSantis’ Florida.

Phelan points out that DeSantis’s constituents obviously liked what they saw of his first term. Walz’s constituents, not so much:

As Figure 3 shows, DeSantis saw his vote share increase by 9.8 percentage points between the gubernatorial election of 2018 and that of 2022 while Walz saw his fall by 1.5 percentage points. As Figure 4 shows, if we look at the number of votes cast for each candidate, DeSantis saw an increase of 13.2% between the gubernatorial election of 2018 and that of 2022 while Walz saw a fall of 5.8%….

That probably has something to do with the economic performance of the two states, which has diverged sharply:

The fact that the election results, like the migration numbers, favor DeSantis over Walz ought not be surprising given the relative economic performance of DeSantis’ Florida and Walz’ Minnesota.

As Figure 5 shows, between 2018 and 2021, real Gross Domestic Product grew by 9.3% in De Santis’ Florida compared to 2.8% in Walz’ Minnesota. As Figure 6 shows, total employment rose in DeSantis’ Florida by 5.3% between 2018 to 2021 while it fell in Walz’ Minnesota by 2.2%.

John concludes:

A Walz vs DeSantis contest in 2024 would offer a very clear choice between two governing philosophies. The migration and electoral numbers indicate how that might go. The economic numbers might tell you why.

I don’t suppose we will be lucky enough to see that matchup, but we can always dream.

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