Memo to New York Times podcaster Lulu Garcia-Navarro, her editors at the paper’s opinion section, and indeed all journalists: If you’re going to do a takedown piece on a major politician, or anyone, try to display at least minimal competence.
Had Garcia-Navarro and her editors followed this advice, they’d have never published a recent hatchet job on Ron DeSantis, the Florida Republican governor and possible 2024 presidential candidate, that’s a monument to factual cherry- picking and outright misinformation trafficking, and a disgrace even to the increasingly debased practice of opinion writing.
Garcia-Navarro concentrates on debunking the claims of DeSantis and his supporters that the governor “has overseen a growing economy” and that. “Florida now has the fastest-growing population in the country.” (I reported on the latter and related developments here.)
Actually, the author claims,
“Florida is not a model for the nation, unless the nation wants to become unaffordable for everyone except rich snowbirds.
“While my home state’s popularity might indeed seem like good news for a governor with presidential ambitions, a closer look shows that Florida is underwater demographically. Most of those flocking there are aging boomers with deep pockets, adding to the demographic imbalance for what is already one of the grayest populations in the nation. This means that Florida won’t have the younger workers needed to care for all those seniors. And while other places understand that immigrants, who often work in the service sector and agriculture, two of Florida’s main industries, are vital to replenishing aging populations, Mr. DeSantis and the state G.O.P. are not exactly immigrant-friendly, enacting legislation to limit the ability of people with uncertain legal status to work in the state.”
One obvious reason for doubting Garcia-Navarro’s arguments is the lack of documentation. That’s likely because had the author decided to present the principal facts, or had her editors insisted upon this, they ‘d have watched this indictment melt away.
A balanced picture of Florida’s demographics would have begun by noting that DeSantis has only occupied the state house in Tallahassee since the beginning of 2019. Anyone familiar with the Sunshine States knows that it’s been a popular retirement destination for decades.
It’s possible that DeSantis has had such a powerful impact on Florida’s demographics that these patterns have changed dramatically in the last four years? Well, yes. But the statistics surely have been distorted – like virtually all U.S. data – by the CCP Virus.
In any event, Florida’s own state government shows that the state’s (higher-than-the-U.S. Average) median age rose 0.71 percent between 2019-2021 (the latest figures available) while that of the nation as a whole increased by 0.52 percent. For comparison’s sake, during the two years before 2019, Florida’s median age advanced by 0.48 percent versus the 1.05 percent for the entire United States.
So these limited samples do show that Florida has been aging at a relatively fast pace under DeSantis, both versus its own pre-DeSantis pace and that of all of America. But the none of gaps or the changes between them is the least bit dramatic.
Between 2017 and 2019, Florida’s median age dipped from 110 percent of its total U.S. counterpart to 109.375 percent. By 2021, it bounced all the way back to …109.585 percent. In other words, big whoop.
As for Garcia-Navarro’s charge that DeSantis’ governorship has benefited only “rich snowbirds” economically, that’s hard to square with what the exit polls told us about his 2022 reelection results. Specifically, fully 41 percent of Floridians who voted last year lived in households that earned $50,000 annually or less. Thirty-eight percent of these voters’ households earned between $50,000 and $99,000 per year. And 21 percent earned more than $100,000 each year. So clearly, lots of DeSantis voters weren’t one percenters or five percenters or ten percenters or even close.
It’s true that DeSantis clobbered his Democratic opponent among voters aged 45 or older – by 63 percent to 36 percent. But that group includes lots of non-geezers. And among the 18-44-year olds, DeSantis trailed by just 50-48 percent. So clearly lots of DeSanti voters weren’t wealthy seniors, either. Either all these non-super-rich and young and midde aged Floridians are too stupid to vote in thei own economic self-interest, or they know something that Garcia-Navarro and her editors don’t.
And has DeSantis really shut off the flow of desperately needed immigrants into Florida? Despite his efforts to “limit the ability of people with uncertain legal status to work in the state” (love that latest euphemism for illegal aliens!), U.S. Census data show that the answer is emphatically “No.”
For example, from July, 2021 to July, 2022 (the latest official data available), slightly fewer immigrants moved into Florida on a net basis (125,629) than into California (125,715). And that’s even though California’s estimated population last year (39.03 million) was much larger than Florida’s (22.24 million), and even though California is a self-proclaimed sanctuary state. (See the the fourth xls table downloadable from this Census link.)
These data don’t distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants, but for the purposes of this post, who cares? Indeed, do the (not rocket science) math, and even if you believe that more immigrants (includin those with “uncertain legal status) are essential for adequate senior care, it turns out that Florida is in much better shape because it’s receiving nearly as many of the foreign born as California even though its population includes many fewer (4.69 million) seniors in absolute terms than California (5.93 million).
Moreover, these numbers are little changed in a relative sense from those of the last pre-DeSantis year. In fact, the data in the fifth xls table available at this Census link show that from July, 2018 to July, 2019, more immigrants came to Florida (88,678) than to California (74,028) even though more seniors (just over six million) lived in the latter than in the former (4.54 million). (Note: this last data describes the situation as of April, 2020. These were the closest Census figures that seem to be available.)
I was able to find all these highly relevant figures without undue difficulty. Why couldn’t Garcia-Navarro? Or her editors? No doubt because their intent was not to englighten but to smear. As a result, I feel better than ever about changing my nomenclature for such established news organizations from “Mainstream Media” to “Regime Media.”