Texas is a different story. Texas has low taxes -- and no state income taxes -- and a much smaller government. Its legislature meets for only 90 days every two years, compared to California's year-round legislature. Its fiscal condition is sound. Public employee unions are weak or nonexistent.
But Texas seems to be delivering superior services. Its teachers are paid less than California's. But its test scores -- and with a demographically similar school population -- are higher. California's once fabled freeways are crumbling and crowded. Texas has built gleaming new highways in metro Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth.
In the meantime, Texas' economy has been booming. Unemployment rates have been below the national average for more than a decade, as companies small and large generate new jobs.
And Americans have been voting for Texas with their feet. From 2000 to 2009, some 848,000 people moved from other parts of the United States to Texas, about the same number as moved in from abroad. That inflow has continued in 2008-09, in which 143,000 Americans moved into Texas, more than double the number in any other state, at the same time as 98,000 were moving out of California. Texas is on the way to gain four additional House seats and electoral votes in the 2010 reapportionment.
This was not always so. In the two decades after World War II, California, with its pleasant weather, was the Golden State, a promised land, for most Americans, while Texas seemed a provincial rural backwater. Many saw postwar California's expansion of universities, freeways and water systems a model for the nation. Few experts praised Texas' low-tax, low-services government.
Now it is California's ruinously expensive and increasingly incompetent government that seems dysfunctional, while Texas' approach has generated more creativity and opportunity. So it's not surprising that Texas voters preferred Perry over an opponent who has spent 16 years in Washington. What's surprising is that Democrats in Washington are still trying to impose policies like those that have ravaged California rather than those which have proved so successful in Texas.