Following the election of President Donald Trump, new polling indicates that roughly a third of Californians are open to the idea of their state seceding from the rest of the country. Since 2015, there has been a growing movement within California to secede from the U.S, a phenomenon that has been unofficially dubbed “Calexit.”
On Jan. 23, a new Reuters/Ipsos national survey about state secession found that 32 percent of Californians would support their state making a peaceful break from the rest of the U.S., Reuters reports.
The latest findings indicate a sharp uptick in Californians supporting secession. In a 2014 survey conducted by the same polling group, only 20 percent of Californians were in favor of the idea.
Californians are now among the most in favor American citizens to favor secession. The survey found that, on average, 22 percent of respondents from across the nation were in favor of their particular state making a break from the union.
Democratic political consultant Steve Maviglio, who has opposed California breaking away from the U.S., noted that the Golden State residents’ growing openness to secession correlates with their opposition to the new president.
“There’s such hostility towards Trump that many citizens believe it would be smarter to leave than fight,” Maviglio said.
California establishing itself as its own nation would technically be feasible. For example, the Golden State has both a larger population and economy than Canada, according to The Sacramento Bee.
It is also not unprecedented for hostility towards a new president to inflame a state population’s support for calling it quits on the union. In August 2016, a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling found that 40 percent of Texan respondents would support their state seceding if former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the election, Time reports.
The Calexit movement has been spearheaded by the organization Yes California, which saw its email list rise by over 100,000 subscriptions since the November election.
The secession organization has drawn controversy due to the group’s president, Louis Marinelli, a former conservative-turned-progressive who was born in New York and currently resides in Russia.
Yes California’s prominence in the Calexit movement has been criticized by competing secession groups, who have accused Marinelli of acting as a Russian influence seeking to destabilize the U.S., according to Politico.
“Yes California isn’t a Californian movement,” said Jed Wheeler, general secretary of the pro-secession California National Party. “Yes California is a movement whose optics are all designed for a Russian audience to reinforce [Vladimir] Putin, by talking about … how terrible America is, and reinforcing [the idea that] Putin is this great guy who is admired all over the world.”
Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, who is currently considering running for California governor in 2018, has voiced support for a Calexit.
“I’d be fine with that,” Thiel told The New York Times. “I think it would be good for California, good for the rest of the country. It would help Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign.”