A California Progress Report

The Public Policy Insititute of California has issued results of a poll measuring the attitudes of Californians on a variety of state and national issues.  And what a surprise, it skews way to the left on most things.  Here’s the summary but Frank Russo.

The Public Policy Institute of California has just released a 44 page survey of Californians’ attitudes on a variety of state and national issues, candidates, officeholders, and the ability of Californians to identify key elected leaders. 

We’ll give you the Readers’ Digest overview here and will have additional analysis of individual components of this massive poll, and recommend that you take at least a peak at it on line using the link above. The PPIC released the poll with a catchy headline: “State Has Immigration Jitters and Post-Partisan Depression,” if you need your appetite whetted with a shorter first taste. The subheading states: “Little Faith That Bush, Congress Or Governor, Legislature Can Work Together; Republicans Almost As Negative As Democrats About Bush’s Job On Immigration.”

Here are the main points:

Health care: The voters and the public as a whole want major change. About three in four residents see the number of people without health insurance as a big problem in California today and believe that California’s health care system is in need of major changes. Two-thirds (66%) of California’s residents think the U.S. government should provide a national health insurance program even if it means higher taxes. Even more (73%) support such a program for children under the age of 18. Residents (72%) and likely voters (65%) strongly support the outline of shared responsibility in Governor Schwarzenegger’s health insurance proposal.

There was no polling here asking about the Democratic plans, both the one advanced by the leaders of both the State Assembly and State Senate in AB 8, which contain a different configuration of elements of the Governor’s plan. There also is no comparable question, other than perhaps the question about national health insurance, that pertains to the single payer plan being advanced by Senator Sheila Kuehl. The Governor’s plan was not mentioned by name–the operative question being;” Would you favor or oppose a plan requiring all Californians to have health insurance, with costs shared by employers, health care providers, and individuals.

Immigration: Identified once again as the biggest issue facing the state, a position it has had since 2006. A majority of Californians (74%) say illegal immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for more than two years should have a chance to keep their jobs and apply for legal status. Bill Cavala has written a more detailed description of the oll’s many findings as to immigration.

The Presidential Horserace in California: Hillary Clinton leads Barack Obama (35% to 20%) among likely Democratic primary voters. In the lineup, Al Gore is mentioned by name and is favored by 19%, and John Edwards clocks in at 9%, with others trailing .

Rudy Guiliani leads John McCain (29% to 15%) among likely Republican primary voters, with Mitt Romney at 12% and Fred Thompson at 11%. Note that the poll was taken between June 12 and 19 and Thompson’s numbers may have gone up since then as reflected in other polls.

All of this, of course is early and the democratic lineup is consistent with other recent polls. One really good sign for Democrats emerges: Democrats are happier with their choices of Presidential candidates. Likely Democratic primary voters are much more satisfied with their choice of candidates than likely. Republican primary voters are with theirs (74% to 57% respectively). Members of both groups are highly engaged even at this early stage, with 75 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of Republicans following news about the candidates either fairly or very closely.

Bush Ratings: The President is statistically in the same dismally low overall place as before with the PPIC and this is in accord with other polls in the main. Only three in 10 California adults and likely voters approve of President Bush’s overalljob performancewith 68% disapproving. He has only a 56% rating with Republicans and a 40% disapproval within his own party. His rating on Iraq at 21% approval and 75% approval is even lower and he barely (within the margin of error of the poll) gets Republican support on Iraq 49% to 47%. On immigration, his performancee is favored by only 28% and disapproved by 63

Approval ratings of the U.S. Congress: The approval of Congress has declined 9 points since January. Speaker Pelosi’s approval ratings have declined since March and she now receives mixed
reviews (39% approve, 31% disapprove,30% unsure).

Iraq: This bodes well for the ballot proposition proposed by Senate leader Don Perata calling for an orderly and immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Pessimism about Iraq continues to rise. Majorities of adults and likely voters (53% each) say things are going not at all well in Iraq, and seven in 10 adults think it was not worth going to war. Residents are not favorable toward the recent troop surge in Iraq. Four in 10 say the additional troops are making the situation in Iraq worse. More than two in three residents favor imposing a timeline for U.S. troop withdrawal

Abortion Rights: Californians remain strongly pro-choice on abortion. Most Californians (61%) say the ability to get an abortion should either stay the same or be easier; one-third (33%) believe it should be more difficult—a 7-point jump since September 2006.

Same-Sex Marriage: There is a divide on this issue. Californians residents remain deeply divided on the issue of allowing same-sex couples to be legally married with 49% opposed and 45 percent are in favor. 6 percent don’t know. Likely voters are more evenly divided at 46% in favor and 48% opposed. While attitudes on this question have not changed much in the three times the PPIC has asked this question since February 2004, it would be interesting to see a breakdown by age on this question as younger residents and voters in other polls are more strongly in favor while older residents and voters are more strongly against, showing that in the long run sentiment will shift in favor of gay marriage..

Job Performances of the Governor and Legislature: A strong majority of Californians approve of the governor’s job performance. The state legislature’s approval ratings this year, though still well below a majority, are significantly higher than last year.

Direction of State and Country: Californians’ outlook for the state is mixed (44% right direction, 46% wrong direction), while 63 percent think things in the countryare headed in the wrong direction.

“Partisanship” and the Ability of State and National Leaderes to Work Together: Residents are much less likelyin this poll than they were in January to believe that state leaders will be able to work together and accomplish a lot in the coming year. Confidence that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state legislature will be able to work together has dropped 13points from a solid majority (62%) in January, to just about half (49%) today. This has not, however, affected approval ratings for the governor (57% all adults and 65% likely voters approve), or the legislature (39% all adults and 35% likely voters approve). These numbers have remained about the same as they were in January.

Information gap: 93% of Californians and 97% of likely voters can name Arnold Schwarzenegger as the governor of the state, but few can name Fabian Nunez as the Speaker of the State Assembly (8% of adults and 11% of likely voters), or Don Perata as the President pro Tem of the State Senate (3% of Californians and 6% of likely voters). Only 2% of Californians and 3% of likely voters can name all three correctly.

Put this in the context of the prior surveys showing even voters cannot correctly identify where the state spends most of its money and where it gets most of its revenue from and the declining reportage of state news with layoffs of reporters covering Sacramento and the state, and you have to believe there is a connection here. At least readers of the California Progress Report will have a higher level of knowledge–although that has not been polled.