With less than two months to go until a highly consequential midterm election, Californians appear to have regained their confidence in the state’s electoral system, according to the latest PPIC Statewide Survey.
In our September survey, 52% of adults and 63% of likely voters say they have either a great deal (38% adults, 50% likely voters) or quite a lot (14% adults, 13% likely voters) of confidence in the way votes are cast and counted in California. This is the largest share ever recorded in PPIC Statewide Surveys and demonstrates a strong rebound in opinion from record-low levels measured in September 2019. Previously, confidence in California’s electoral system had declined each time we asked this question from 2004 to 2019, but it has been on the upswing since September 2020.
Across all regions and demographic groups, confidence has increased by double digits since 2019, with the exception of adults with a high school diploma only (+9). However, levels of confidence continue to differ across partisan lines. Today, Democrats (58%) and independents (39%) are far more likely than they were in 2019 (27% Democrats, 18% 2019) to say they have a great deal confidence in the system. But confidence has remained low among Republicans (14% today; 11% 2019).
Views of the 2020 election tend to align with this overall boost in confidence. An overwhelming majority of adults and likely voters are very (48% adults, 60% likely voters) or somewhat confident (23% adults, 14% likely voters) that the 2020 election was conducted fairly and accurately. Majorities across regions as well as all partisan and demographic groups hold this view, with the exception of Republicans (13% very confident, 19% somewhat confident).
Surprisingly, concerns about voter fraud have not significantly decreased even as confidence in elections has substantially improved. Half of adults and likely voters are very (25% adults, 30% likely voters) or somewhat concerned (24% adults, 20% likely voters) that it is too easy for people who are not eligible to vote in California elections. Interestingly, such concerns were only slightly more intense in September 2019 when confidence was at an all-time low (adults: 30% very, 24% somewhat; likely voters: 38% very, 19% somewhat).
Despite little movement overall, concern about voter fraud has decreased among certain subgroups since September 2019. In particular, we see noteworthy decreases in the shares saying they are very or somewhat concerned among Asian Americans (33% today, 54% 2019), San Francisco Bay Area residents (37% today, 49% 2019), Democrats (32% today, 43% 2019), and college graduates (38% today, 48% 2019). Notably, Republicans are the only group where concern has grown—albeit by a narrow margin (85% today, 79% 2019).
In the first nationwide election since the hotly debated outcome of the 2020 presidential election, the accuracy of November’s election may well be questioned in contests across the country, especially in tight races and those that could change the balance of power in Congress. As we approach November 8, and as questions about election integrity linger at the national level, PPIC will continue to monitor the opinions of Californians on important midterm-related issues.