Apologies for intruding with a fact. Here is the key quote with respect to causation from the cited USA TODAY article:
"The big drivers of red state income growth: energy and government benefit payments such as food stamps."
-- "Energy" means the oil and natural gas industries. Their growth has next to nothing to do with state level Republican or Democratic Party social and tax policies.
-- "Government benefit programs" -- a.k.a. "entitlements" -- provide the majority of this 4.6% average income increase over the period covered.
One major source for this increase to average income was demographic. People took early retirement and moved south. (Food stamp increases were really the least of it. That only moderates poverty.)
To be noted: the Romney/Ryan ticket stated support in Tampa for making what they call "the hard choices" to cut back this growth of entitlements. Hear, hear! Bully for them!
Addendum: Much credit goes to those that flee and vote with their feet. Unfortunately, the exiting Californians really do seem to be ruining the states they go to in the same manner California has been ruined with anti-industrial, anti-development and high tax policies with little appreciation for the efforts of those that created the excellent conditions in those states originally. See, e.g., Colorado; Nevada.
Not sure the word "beneficiaries" applies to states on the receiving end of California's out-migration. The folks coming still have rocks in their heads, which I suppose is touched upon in the subsequent paragraph.
We do not know whether there is a direct causal link or not. If there is, it might take either form:
1...People in 'red' states are better off because 'red' government is better; or
2...Those who are more effective at wealth-creation tend (for whatever reason) to vote 'red;' the resulting government might/might not in itself be preferable.
Of course, one does not exclude the other. If there is a direct causation, both the above might, in some measure, be involved.
The "Dem" states never learn, which is too bad, because they contribute more to the Federal Government than they get back. "Repub" states better hope they never learn.
Concern: if the red states are better off, are they going to vote for status quo? The dem states never learn, so they won't vote anyone but a dem...no matter how much information proves the dems are the cause of the problem! I live in one - California - it is driving me nuts - but it is home, native born and very hard to learv.