“Everyone is from California. Are they kicking y’all out?” asks a curious bureaucrat at the Department of Public Safety in Plano, a city near Dallas. In the previous week she had helped 20 people from California apply for a Texas driving licence. Those keeping score in the contest between the two states do not have to look far to notch up points for Texas. On the way to the state Capitol building in Austin to interview Greg Abbott, the governor, your correspondent discovered that her driver had recently relocated from southern California to start a family in a more affordable city.
Between 2007 and 2016 a net 1m American residents, or 2.5% of the state’s population, left California for another state. Texas was the most popular destination, attracting more than a quarter of them. More Americans have left California than moved there every year since 1990, though immigrants still arrive from abroad.