The Trump administration has set a new course on two issues that have deep roots in California politics and policy: climate change and immigration. As state policymakers consider responses to the federal government on these issues, our most recent PPIC Statewide Survey finds that Californians are broadly supportive of the state taking its own action.
In PPIC surveys dating back to 2005, strong majorities of Californians have said that global warming is a threat to the state’s future economy and quality of life. Over the same period, majorities have said that they favor the state government making its own policies to address the issue of global warming: 63% said so in the January survey. When it comes to specific action the state has taken on climate change at least two-thirds have said since 2006 that they favor AB 32, the state’s landmark law limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
Many Californians also want to see state action on immigration. When asked the most important issue for the governor and legislature to work on this year, immigration was the most common response (tied with jobs and the economy). Furthermore, 65% of Californians favored state and local governments making their own policies and taking action to protect the legal rights of the undocumented. This is the first time we’ve asked about state and local action on immigration, so we don’t know how Californians might have answered under previous presidential administrations. We can, however, look to some longstanding attitudes toward immigrants in the state.
Consistent with what we saw in PPIC surveys over the previous year, an overwhelming majority (85%) said in January that there should be a way for undocumented immigrants to stay in the country legally if certain requirements are met. In surveys since 2013, we have also found at least 60% of Californians saying that immigrants are a benefit to California because of their hard work and job skills, rather than a burden because they use public services.
On climate change and immigration, we find wide differences between the parties, with Democrats and independents far more likely than Republicans to be in favor of independent state action. Among Trump voters, few want state action on either issue, but they are more likely to favor state policymakers acting on global warming (26%) than to protect the rights of the undocumented (16%). On both issues, majorities of Californians across regions of the state want independent action, though residents of the Central Valley are among the least likely to be in favor.
While President Trump has been in office for just over a month, he already has state and local policymakers in California considering responses to his early actions. We currently find widespread support for state action on climate change and immigration, and we will continue to monitor public opinion on these issues as federal policy changes and California responses unfold.
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