Tuesday, August 14 , 2018, 8:55 pm | Fair 72º


Survey: California Voter Support Leaning Toward Brown, Boxer

Nearly half favor Proposition 25, with fewer supporting Propositions 19, 23 and 24

Democrat Jerry Brown leads Republican Meg Whitman in the California governor’s race, and Democratic incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer is locked in a close contest with Republican challenger Carly Fiorina in the U.S. Senate campaign. These are the results of a survey released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California with funding from the James Irvine Foundation.

Likely voters favor Brown over Whitman by 8 points (44 percent Brown, 36 percent Whitman, 16 percent undecided). The two candidates were in a virtual tie in September (38 percent Whitman, 37 percent Brown, 18 percent undecided). The Senate race is tight (43 percent Boxer, 38 percent Fiorina, 13 percent undecided) among likely voters. Boxer held a 7-point lead in September (42 percent Boxer, 35 percent Fiorina, 17 percent undecided).

In the final weeks of the campaign season, California’s likely voters express discontent in a number of ways: approval ratings of elected officials that are at or near record lows, a belief that the state and nation are headed in the wrong direction, and pessimism about the economy. While most (62 percent) are satisfied with their choice for U.S. Senate, more than half (55 percent) are dissatisfied with their choice for governor. Farther down the statewide ballot, none of the four state ballot initiatives included in the PPIC survey has the majority support today that is necessary for passage on Nov. 2.

Looking to Washington, California likely voters are split over whether they would prefer a Congress controlled by Democrats or one controlled by Republicans (45 percent prefer control by Democrats, 43 percent control by Republicans). Should control of Congress switch to Republicans, 40 percent of likely voters say it would be a good thing, 33 percent say it would be bad and 25 percent say it would make no difference.

“As they view their ballot options on Election Day, voters are united in their unhappiness with elected officials and the direction of government — but divided about the leadership they want to help meet the challenges in their lives,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO.

Californians approach the election with a dismal view of the economy. Nearly all adults (87 percent) continue to say that the state is in a recession, and 54 percent call it a serious recession. A majority of Californians (62 percent) are concerned (39 percent very concerned, 23 percent somewhat concerned) about having enough money to pay their rent or mortgage. With unemployment in double digits, 45 percent are very concerned (28 percent) or somewhat concerned (17 percent) that they or someone in their family will lose a job in the next year.

Independents Split in Races for Governor, Senate

Among likely voters, independents were more likely to support Whitman in September (38 percent Whitman, 30 percent Brown, 19 percent undecided) but are divided today (37 percent Whitman, 36 percent Brown, 19 percent undecided). Support for Brown has increased among Democrats (76 percent today, 63 percent September), liberals (82 percent today, 68 percent September), moderates (51 percent today, 39 percent September), women (47 percent today, 35 percent September), and Latinos (51 percent today, 32 percent September). Support for Whitman has held steady among Republicans (73 percent today, 71 percent September) and conservatives (63 percent today, 67 percent September). Men and whites remain divided.

Asked which candidate for governor would do a better job handling specific issues, likely voters prefer Brown over Whitman on education (47 percent to 37 percent), the environment (57 percent to 25 percent) and immigration (43 percent to 37 percent). They prefer Whitman over Brown on jobs and the economy (47 percent to 39 percent) and on the state budget and taxes (48 percent to 40 percent).

In the Senate race, independents are split (37 percent Fiorina, 36 percent Boxer, 18 percent undecided), as they were in September (34 percent Fiorina, 32 percent Boxer, 20 percent undecided). Support is up slightly for Boxer among Democrats (76 percent today, 72 percent September) and for Fiorina among Republicans (77 percent today, 72 percent September).

Support to Legalize Marijuana Drops Below Majority

Today, 44 percent of likely voters plan to vote for Proposition 19 — the measure that would legalize marijuana — while 49 percent plan to vote against it, with 7 percent undecided. This is an 8-point drop in support since September (52 percent yes, 41 percent no, 7 percent undecided). Support has declined among Democrats (56 percent today, 63 percent September), dropped sharply among independents (40 percent today, 65 percent September), and remains low among Republicans (30 percent today, 32 percent September).

Support has declined across nearly all demographic groups, most strikingly among Latinos (42 percent today, 63 percent September). Most likely voters say the outcome of the vote on Proposition 19 is important (52 percent very important, 28 percent somewhat important). Those planning to vote no are more likely to consider the outcome very important (67 percent) than those planning to vote yes (40 percent).

More Oppose Than Support Propositions 23, 24

Support also has declined for Proposition 23, the measure to suspend the state’s air pollution law until unemployment falls to at least 5.5 percent for one year. Likely voters are now much more likely to say they will vote no (48 percent) on the proposition than yes (37 percent), while in September they were closely divided (43 percent yes, 42 percent no).

Across parties, opposition has increased slightly among Democrats (53 percent today, 48 percent September) and independents (54 percent today, 43 percent September), while support has held steady among Republicans (46 percent today, 45 percent September). Latinos, who favored Proposition 23 in September (54 percent yes, 36 percent no) are now divided (44 percent yes, 42 percent no). About half of likely voters (49 percent) say the outcome of the vote on Proposition 23 is very important and 33 percent say it is somewhat important.

Proposition 24 still has neither majority support nor opposition across parties, regions and demographic groups. A plurality plans to vote no on the measure, which would repeal a law that grants businesses lower tax liability (38 percent no, 31 percent yes, 31 percent undecided). Asked about the importance of the vote on Proposition 24, 31 percent say it is very important and 37 percent say somewhat important.

Just less than half of likely voters (49 percent) plan to vote for Proposition 25, 34 percent plan to vote no, and 17 percent are undecided about the measure, which would reduce the legislative threshold for budget passage from two-thirds to a simple majority. The results were nearly identical in September (48 percent yes, 35 percent no, 17 percent undecided).

Support has increased among Democrats (58 percent today, 52 percent September), and a plurality of Republicans remain opposed (45 percent today, 43 percent September). Half of likely voters (50 percent) say the outcome of the vote on Proposition 25 is very important, and 32 percent say it is somewhat important. Majorities of those who support (56 percent) and those opposed (54 percent) consider the outcome very important.

Decision by Initiative: Voters Like It, But More of Them Want Changes

As they consider nine initiatives on the ballot, most likely voters (55 percent) say that decisions made by voters through the initiative process are probably better than those made by the governor and legislature, and 30 percent say voters’ decisions are probably worse. This finding has stayed remarkably consistent: Since PPIC first asked this question in October 2000, majorities have said decisions made by voters are probably better.

Despite confidence in their own decisions, voters’ dissatisfaction with the initiative process has grown. From 2000 to 2008, less than a third of likely voters said they were dissatisfied with the way the initiative process is working. Today, 43 percent say so. About half (49 percent) say the initiative process needs major changes. Another 30 percent say minor changes are needed, and just 15 percent say the process is fine as it is. Even among those who say voters’ decisions are better than those of elected officials, a plurality (40 percent) say the process needs major changes.

Likely Voters Give Legislature 10 Percent Approval Rating

In Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s last months in office, his approval rating among likely voters is 29 percent, up slightly from his record-low 24 percent in May. The Legislature gets more negative reviews: After passing the budget 100 days late, lawmakers get an approval rating of 10 percent from likely voters, a virtual tie with the record low of 9 percent in March.

Federal elected officials fare better than state leaders. Just less than half of likely voters (49 percent) approve of President Barack Obama’s job performance and 47 percent disapprove. Among all California adults, a majority (55 percent) approve and 40 percent disapprove of the job President Obama is doing. Californians are more approving of the president than adults nationwide (45 percent approve, 52 percent disapprove in a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll). His approval rating has fallen 17 points among likely voters from a high of 66 percent in May 2009. Congress gets considerably lower marks: Just 26 percent of likely voters approve of federal legislators’ job performance.

Major Parties Viewed Unfavorably — Tea Party Rating Down, Too

Likely voters’ discontent with their elected officials is echoed in their discontent over the direction of the state and nation. Solid majorities say California (77 percent) and the United States (60 percent) are headed in the wrong direction. The Democratic and Republican parties don’t fare well with likely voters either: A majority (56 percent) say the parties are doing such a poor job that a third major party is needed.

How is the Tea Party movement viewed in California? Likely voters’ negative impressions have increased in the past year, with 35 percent viewing it favorably and 47 percent viewing it unfavorably today. The unfavorable rating has increased 10 points since March. However, the Republican Party has a higher unfavorable rating (62 percent) than either the Tea Party (47 percent) or Democratic Party (51 percent).

More Key Findings

Distrust in Government Runs High

Three-quarters (73 percent) of likely voters say the federal government is run by a few big interests looking out for themselves rather than being run for the benefit of all. Seventy-nine percent hold this view about state government.

TV Tops Other Media as Source of Political Information

A plurality of residents (37 percent) get most of their information about politics from television, a 10-point drop since 2007. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) get most of their information from the Internet, 15 percent from newspapers and 10 percent from radio. Those who mainly get information online are divided among those who read newspaper Web sites (47 percent) and those who go to other types of Web sites (50 percent). The percentage of adults who go online sometimes or often to get California news has increased 16 points since 2007, from 43 percent to 59 percent.

Click here to view the survey.


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