Behind the ads and the commentary is a serious competition between the states for economic pre-eminence. In that corner, Athens. In this one, Sparta. Each serves as the other’s foil, the Ali to its Frazier, the Moriarty to its Holmes, the red to its blue. Each sees itself as the economic, cultural and political engine of the future.

Over the past decade, Texas has been knocking the feathers out of the competition, adding jobs faster than any other state. That’s one of Mr. Perry’s brags, and it would have been a centerpiece of his 2012 presidential campaign, had he kept that effort alive long enough to need a centerpiece.

Not from Texas? Here’s one argument heard lately in California: Mr. Perry and Texas didn’t create all those jobs. They stole them. When Countrywide Financial (may it rest in peace) moved to Texas from California in 2004, Texas threw $20 million at the company, which in turn promised 7,500 jobs. Even the rosiest spin on that deal failed to add up to the number of jobs in the universe. It just relocated them.

You can put all of the eggs under one chicken, but that does not make that chicken the best egg-layer in the coop. On the other hand, it does make that chicken the one with the most eggs.