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Blog Post · May 17, 2023

Californians Offer Mixed Views of Government as Critical Deadlines Loom

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In the coming weeks elected leaders in Sacramento and Washington need to resolve key fiscal issues. At the state level, Governor Newsom needs to work with the legislature to finalize a state budget that addresses a growing gap between revenues and spending by June 30, the end of the fiscal year. At the federal level, Congress and the president must address the debt ceiling. A recent PPIC Statewide Survey takes a general look at how Californians feel about the prospect of elected leaders working together and gauges their level of trust in government.

Californians were far more optimistic about state leaders working in partnership than about collaboration among federal leaders. Six in ten Californians think that Governor Newsom and the state legislature will be able to work together and accomplish a lot. Most Democrats and a majority of independents express confidence in the prospects for collaboration, compared to about one in four Republicans.

Majorities across the state’s regions think the governor and the legislature will be able to work together this year. A majority of Californians across demographic groups say they are optimistic, but there are some differences: African Americans and Latinos are more optimistic than Asian Americans and whites, and men (65%) are somewhat more likely than women (57%) to be optimistic.

Californians are much less optimistic about President Biden and Congress being able to work together, with just one in four holding this view. Across parties, Democrats are more optimistic than Republicans and independents. Across regions and demographic groups, African Americans and Latinos are most optimistic, and women (30%) are somewhat more optimistic than men (23%).

Our survey also gauges how much trust Californians have in government. Californians are more likely to trust the state government than the federal government. But trust in either level of government is generally low, as it has been for years. Fewer than half say they trust Sacramento to do what is right just about always or most of the time, and only about one in three say this about the federal government. And, outside of few groups who express trust in the state government (69% Democrats, 59% Los Angeles and 53% Latinos), fewer than half across parties, regions, and demographic groups say they can trust either the state or the federal government to do what is right just about always or most of the time.

Just one in four Californians (25%) trust both levels of government to do what is right just about always or most of the time, while nearly half of Californians (46%) say they trust both levels of government only some of the time or never.

While trust in government is generally low, most Californians are optimistic that state leaders can address challenges such as the current budget shortfall. Stay tuned for more from the Statewide Survey as we continue to examine these and other key issues.


California State Legislature Gavin Newsom Joe Biden Political Landscape state budget Statewide Survey US Congress