California Ranks No. 1 in National Poll
State's issues don't seem to impact American's impressions of the Golden State
SAN FRANCISCO - Despite a stalled economy, high taxes, a negative business environment, and an impending gubernatorial recall, California has edged out Florida for the second year in a row as the most popular state to live in, according to a recent national survey conducted by Harris Interactive.
According to the survey, reported by CBS.MarketWatch.com, Florida earned a second-place ranking for the second straight year, down from the Number One position it held from 1997 to 2001.
Hawaii ranked third for the third year in a row.
The survey of 2,215 Americans showed New York as the only representative in the Top 15 from the US Northeast. New York moved up from its eight position in 2002 and ranked after fourth place Colorado.
Georgia rose from 14th to 15th place, while North Carolina, dropping from 5th position to 8th. Texas leapt from 14th to the 7th spot and Arizona held the No. Six position for the third year in a row.
Virginia moved up from 12th to ninth place last year, while Nevada joined the list at 12th most popular US state, the first time the state made the cut since the survey was first conducted in 1997.
Joining North Carolina on the downward slope were Montana, which fell to 13th position from 11th in 2002, and Alaska, which fell from 12th place last year to 15th.
Tennessee did not make the list. The state ranked in 15th place in the 2002 survey.
David Krane, senior vice president at Harris Interactive, told CBS.MarketWatch.com that California edged out Florida and Hawaii "because people living elsewhere don't directly feel the effects of the state's travails."
The perception, he said, "is that California has great weather and great cities to live in, or great tourist attractions, [and] if people's experience of California is a result of visiting there to go on vacations, they may have a very positive memory of the state."
All of these things, Krane said, "give the impression to someone who isn't living there that it's still a great place to live."
According to Krane, many people across the country have perceptions about California that, in effect, have replaced reality.
"Even though the deficit and the Governor's race is national news, for someone who's not living in the state it goes in one ear and out the other. It's not impacting them directly," he said, adding that "a lot of people don't necessarily translate that [news] into 'if you moved there, you'd have to live with those woes.' "
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