Comparing Big Blue and Big Red (states, that is)

As the “Great Sort” continues, Americans (driven in part by COVID policy, but also various economic and education concerns) are moving to states that better reflect those preferences.

The following chart was put together by Vance Ginn, an economist with Texas Public Policy Foundation (our much bigger, sister think tank in Texas). It compares and contrasts major “red” states Texas and Florida with major “blue” states California and New York. You can see the comparison for yourself here.

Furthermore, according to Ginn’s analysis it is actually non-native-born Texans who are keeping the state “red.” In other words, people who are attracted to things like a zero income tax, low tax burdens, and high levels of economic freedom have self-selected to move to Texas, thereby keeping those policies in place through their voting behavior.

Check out the additional polling data cited by Ginn here.

In the hard-fought Senate race between Senator ed Cruz (who had moved to Texas) and then- Representative Beto O’Rourke (a Texas native, natives preferred O’Rourke by plus-3 points, whereas movers favored Cruz by plus-15 points. Cruz won the race by 2.6 percentage points, meaning that if it were up to people who were Texans by birth, Cruz would have lost reelection.

Texas Public Policy Foundation (PPF) has conducted polls of registered voters to test attitudes between natives and non-natives. Its January 2020 poll of 800 registered voters found native Texans supported President Trump over Hillary Clinton by a 7-point margin compared to transplants, who supported Trump by a 12-point margin. TPPF’s polling found there was no statistical difference in voter preferences for either former President Trump or President Joe Biden in the 2020 election among natives versus non-natives.

PS: RGF is working on a similar analysis that adds New Mexico to the mix.

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With your gun rights again in the Legislature’s sights, the NRA is hosting meetings statewide starting this weekend

The NRA-ILA team, along with the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association, will be conducting a series of grassroots meetings across New Mexico the last week of September and first week of October.  During these meetings, discussions will address how anti-gun state lawmakers plan to continue their attack on law-abiding gun owners by pursuing mandatory gun storage proposals and limits on magazine capacity in the upcoming 30-day legislative session, beginning in January of 2022.  Please make plans to attend and find out how you can help stop further restrictions on your rights in the Roundhouse!

Dates, times and locations can be found below these RSVP links:

Farmington September 27:

Moriarty September 28:

Santa Fe September 30:

Las Cruces October 2:

Rio Rancho October 3:

Albuquerque October 4:

Socorro October 5:


Monday, September 27
Farmington, NM
San Juan Wildlife Federation Clubhouse
5652 US Hwy 64

Tuesday, September 28
Moriarty, NM
Moriarty Civic Center
202 Broadway

Thursday, September 30
Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe County GOP Headquarters
1225 Parkway Drive Suite C

Saturday, October 2
Las Cruces, NM
Strykers Shooting World
415 S Valley Drive

Sunday, October 3
Rio Rancho, NM
Del Norte Gun Club
209 Torcido Road NW

Monday, October 4
Albuquerque, NM
Calibers Shooting Sports Center
4340 Cutler Ave NE

Tuesday, October 5
Socorro, NM
St. Paul’s Methodist Fellowship Hall
1000 Goad Street

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RGF President reacts to United pledge of financial support for new stadium on KOAT Channel 7

With Albuquerque voters largely skeptical of the proposed taxpayer-funded United Soccer Stadium, the team has decided to pledge $10 million towards the facility. 

RGF’s president Paul Gessing weighs in on this development in this story. Gessing’s comment for this story is limited to saying that the team should fund “a majority” of the stadium that will cost at least $70 million and will likely cost up to $100 million based on numerous unknown factors including construction materials and the unknown location of the proposed stadium.

Needless to say $10 million is nowhere near half of the stadium’s cost.

Of course, there remain so many unknowns surrounding this project including the actual site. The Foundation has previously discussed numerous additional issues with the proposed facility. 

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Episode 338 Rob Nikolewski – California Energy, Politics and more

On this week’s episode, Paul interviews Rob Nikolewski. Rob is currently an energy reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Previously he covered the New Mexico Legislature for Capitol Report New Mexico, a project of the Rio Grande Foundation.

Paul and Rob briefly discuss his prior coverage of recently-indicted Rep. Sheryl Williams-Stapleton.

The two also discuss the recent California recall election and prospective challengers to Gov. Newsome in the 2022 General Election.
Finally, the two discuss ongoing energy (especially electricity issues) going on in California AND similar challenges facing New Mexico. Particularly, Rob addresses the recent decision by Gov. Newsome to open and reopen several natural gas electricity generation facilities.

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337 Natural Gas Prices Hit 12-Year High, Soccer Stadium or Police, Zero-Cost Bus Fares and more

Natural gas price hits the highest level in 12 years.  According to the LFC, a 10 cent increase in the price per thousand cubic feet of natural gas translates into $15 million in additional revenue (and it’s not even winter yet!):

Where does New Mexico’s electricity come from? 

Rep. Williams Stapleton indicted on 26 charges.

The Biden Administration wants the IRS to know A LOT more about your personal finances. 

State law targets liquor sales at gas stations, so they stopped selling gas. 

Federal Reserve data show inflation is eating up those pay hikes.

PED secretary profiled in Journal. High aspirations, but doesn’t seem inclined/willing to embrace dramatic reform ideas.

One of the United Soccer team’s preferred stadium sites appears to be not for sale.  Of course, you can use the $50 million for the United stadium for cops instead.

ABQ embraces zero-cost bus fares.

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Joe Biden Is Worse Than Jimmy Carter

This article appeared at National Review Institute’s Capital Matters on September 23, 2021.

Don’t conflate Carter and Biden on Policy

By Paul J. Gessing

Amid the ongoing debacle in Afghanistan, some on the right have started making comparisons between the presidency of Jimmy Carter and that of Joe Biden. The parallels between the Iranian hostage crisis and the disaster in Afghanistan are limited, but it is notable that  the hostage crisis was the unforeseeable consequence of a series of events that the U.S. was in not in any real position to control (which is not to claim that Carter handled the events leading up to the fall of the Shah particularly well, on the contrary).  By contrast, what is now unfolding in Afghanistan is the direct and all too predictable consequence of a specific decision that — down to its disastrous timing — was ultimately Biden’s to take.

Another seeming parallel between Carter and Biden is the problem of inflation. Of course, inflation was a major issue throughout the Carter administration as well as during the Nixon and Ford years, with rates bouncing around wildly through much of the decade. But Biden’s inflation problem, like the Afghanistan debacle, is likely to end up resting  mostly on Biden’s own shoulders if his spending plans go through, with the rate having jumped from 1.4 percent in January when he took office to 5.39 percent in June.

To be fair, at least some of the inflation that we have seen so far can be put down to both the supply chain disruptions that have followed the pandemic and measures introduced, generally with a high degree of bipartisan support, during both the Trump and Biden presidencies, to help offset the impact some of the pandemic’s effects . The Fed, too, has played its part.

Persistent inflation could be avoided, but between the passage of the $1.9 trillion American Recovery Plan and the pending $1.1 trillion “bipartisan infrastructure” bill and the Democrats’ planned $3.5 trillion spending bill,  it is hard to be optimistic. The only question is whether Congress will oblige.

Carter, on the other hand, nominated Paul Volcker to chair the Federal Reserve. While there are disagreements as to why he did this, there is not too much dispute that he knew that Volcker would take a tough line on inflation, which he quickly proceeded to do. Biden remains oddly indifferent to the risk of inflation.  Hopefully, Congressional Republicans and Democratic moderates such as Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) will thwart Biden’s spending ambitions.

As if the scales were already not tilted in Carter’s favor relative to Biden’s (at least to date), the starkest differences between the two can be found in the area of economic regulation. On this transformative issue not only was Carter much better than Biden, but he may be one of the most notable deregulatory presidents in modern history. He’s almost certainly the most unexpected.

As president, Carter led the way in deregulating America’s airlines and  interstate trucking, as well as freight railroads and even beer brewing. Each of these reforms has stood the test of time, resulting in cheaper transportation, more industry competition, and better living standards for millions of Americans.

While Americans often complain about cramped quarters on airlines, the actual preferences of most ticket purchasers continues to be for inexpensive, “no frills” options. Meanwhile, just last year over 1,000 supporters of the 1980 Staggers Act, which deregulated much of the railroad sector, signed a letter reaffirming their support for the policies outlined in that bill. As noted in that letter, since the act’s passage,  “[r]ail traffic has doubled, rail productivity has more than doubled, rail rates are down more than 40 percent, and recent years have been the safest on record.”

In other words, deregulation worked, and it has been working to our benefit for decades since.

Lest you think you haven’t benefitted adequately from more efficient transportation, Carter also signed legislation that legalized craft brewing, something that  helped pave the way  to the numerous innovations in beer brewing that have pleased millions of Americans, from hop-heads to those who prefer fruit and chocolate-infused flavors and everything in between.

And how is Joe Biden’s record by comparison? He hasn’t touched brewers (yet), but he is already attempting to re-regulate freight railroads. A July executive order on “providing competitiveness in the American economy” encouraged the Surface Transportation Board (STB) — the federal agency that oversees economic regulations for private freight railroads like Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific — to consider imposing “forced access” more regularly.

This means that privately owned and maintained railroads could be forced to turn over traffic to competing railroads at potentially below-market rates – a clear violation of private property rights and free market enterprise as we know it. The order is akin to net neutrality for railroads. Railroads already voluntarily allow access to their competition in order to improve service across the industry, but the last thing Americans or freight railroads need is for Uncle Sam to get back into the business of heavily regulating railroads.

To date, the Biden administration has done virtually nothing to deregulate the economy. On  the contrary, aside from its  spending spree, what passes for “accomplishments” in the Biden administration largely involve undoing deregulatory executive actions on the part of the Trump administration on the environment, or imposing entirely new, onerous regulations  such as the ban on new oil and gas permits on federal lands, which has now run into trouble in the courts

These points may not convince many conservatives that Jimmy Carter was a good president (and to be clear, I don’t think he was, myself) , but perhaps they will convince some that Carter had significant and lasting accomplishments to show for his  four  years in office. Given his track record to date, Joe Biden is beginning to make  Jimmy Carter look pretty good. That may not say that much about Carter, but it says a lot about Biden.

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Comprehensive energy approach vital to NM future




The following was written by RGF Board member Steve Dodson. It appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on September 19, 2021.

New Mexico lawmakers must put politics to the side and embrace an all-of-the-above approach to sustainable energy if our state is to recover from the pandemic and advance our shared goal of combatting climate change.

A federal judge recently ruled in an ongoing lawsuit that the Biden administration must, for now, rescind its pause on oil and gas leasing on federal lands after more than a dozen states sued, citing that they had met the threshold for proving that the ban would result in significant community harm and economic loss. This comes on the heels of former New Mexico congresswoman and current Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland’s testimony before the House Natural Resources Committee where she made clear there is no “plan right now” to enact a permanent ban on oil and gas leasing on federal lands.

This is all welcome news for New Mexicans and speaks to the need for honest conversations around the role oil and gas must continue to play in New Mexico’s future.

Our state has long been reliant upon the jobs and funding provided by oil and gas operations for critical public outlays like education, health care and infrastructure. Federal lands currently compose nearly 35% of our state’s total area – a permanent leasing ban would immediately threaten the welfare and future of our state while offering no direct alternatives to replace lost public funding and jobs.

Serving on the board of the Rio Grande Foundation, I am proud to work toward bringing meaningful reform to New Mexico. After one of the most devastating periods in history, marked by financial hardship and tremendous loss, it is vital – now more than ever – that energy policy decisions are balanced and take into consideration the vital economic benefits the industry provides to New Mexicans in every corner of the state.

The tax revenues derived from oil and gas operations are essential to N.M.’s economy, bankrolling schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure without hurting the pockets of N.M.’s taxpayers. The state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund, also known as the Permanent School Fund, is financed directly by oil and gas operations and is one of the largest such funds in the United States. It annually provides over three-quarters of a billion dollars to New Mexico’s public schools, universities and other related beneficiaries – in 2021 it is estimated the fund will produce roughly $836.5 million in benefits.

Furthermore, New Mexico’s … unemployment rate of 7.9% is tied for the highest in the entire country according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The oil and gas industry supports 134,000 jobs and contributes over $16 billion to our state’s economy annually. If this leasing ban were ever to be made permanent, it could result in (the loss of) over 60,000 jobs and nearly $1.1 billion in public funding.

Finally, the oil and gas industry is crucial to our national energy transition and continuing to meet consumer demand without increasing energy prices. Instead of focusing on demonizing oil and gas producers, our officials should be working hand in hand with them to incentivize innovative solutions like Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) that can reduce carbon emissions without destroying jobs and revenues.

Although the recent court ruling and Haaland’s comments suggest the current leasing pause will come to an end, nothing is for certain. As some of our state’s lawmakers continue to try to appeal to partisan groups in Washington rather than their own constituents, it is important for all of us to remind them a balanced approach is necessary for New Mexico’s energy and economic future.

The Rio Grande Foundation is an independent, nonpartisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility.

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MLG fails to bully Balloon Fiesta on Vaccine Mandate

After weeks of questions and Gov. MLG pledging to “lean on” event organizers, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has announced (once again) that it WILL NOT require attendees to receive the COVID vaccine as a condition of attendance (as did the State Fair and Zozobra for example).

The power to make your own health care decisions would usually be uncontroversial, especially considering the outdoor setting of the Balloon Fiesta and the fact that masks are being required indoors and in big crowds, but the decision did NOT make Gov. Lujan Grisham happy.

Here’s the statement from her office (per KOB TV): For the Gov. to publicly undermine confidence in one of (if not THE) marquee events in our State is shocking and disappointing to say the least, but it is in line with her “my way or the highway” approach to COVID from day one.

Ever study of the issue has found that COVID’s spread is significantly reduced outdoors. That’s why the CDC does NOT have an outdoor mask mandate. Of course, if you disagree with the Balloon Fiesta’s decision, you can certainly stay home or observe the balloons from afar. But, it is nothing short of shocking that the Gov. would denigrate the organizers of the Balloon Fiesta because she didn’t get her way on mandating vaccines.

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Of course proposed United stadium cash could be used for public safety

When it suits special interest groups (in this case the New Mexico United soccer team), the way taxpayer dollars can be used is often molded to their benefit. Often this involves capital outlay vs. operating budgets which usually DO get separated, but there is also the “anti-donation clause” which was supposed to be an anti-corporate-welfare clause when inserted into New Mexico’s Constitution (now it is toothless except when NOT used for corporate welfare).

The United’s PAC has been making the case that of all things gross receipts tax revenues CAN’T be used to hire more police officers. This is crazy and the Rio Grande Foundation connected the two issues in an ABQ Journal article over a month ago.

According to the Journal’s editorial (linked above) the payments on just the $50 million stadium bond (not to mention additional millions and future maintenance) are expected to cost $3.2 million every year for 20 years (that’s already $64 million, btw).

You can hire a lot of extra cops with that money.


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Late additions: last week’s podcasts now available

RGF’s Paul Gessing had a short conversation with (former) NMSU law professor about his firing for not obeying the University’s mask and vaccine mandates:

Paul and Wally discuss the “news of the week.”

Recently RGF co-sponsored a luncheon with the New Mexico Chapter of the Federalist Society entitled, “2nd Amendment as Tyranny Control.” Paul interviewed University of Wyoming professor George Mocsary here.

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