Californians have consistently supported their state government in making its own policies on national issues. Past PPIC Statewide Surveys have shown that residents want the state to address global warming, and they have also favored independent state action on health care. Now there is one more issue to add to the list: immigration. Our new survey shows that 58 percent support California acting on its own to improve the lives of undocumented immigrants in our state.
It is not surprising that Californians are looking to their state government to act on key issues like climate change, health care, and immigration. Residents increasingly view state government in a more positive light than the federal government. The governor’s job approval rating, which held steady for much of 2013, has now climbed to a record-high 58 percent. The legislature’s job approval rating, at 42 percent, is at a near-record high. In contrast, Congress’ rating—which fell to a record-low 18 percent in December—is now just 26 percent. And President Obama’s approval rating is near its lowest point, at 53 percent.
Californians are also optimistic that state elected officials can work together and accomplish a lot in the next year (57%), while far fewer hold this view of their federal leaders (37%).
California’s policymakers have been in sync with state residents. They’ve taken leadership on climate change, been proactive in implementing federal health care reform, and most recently enacted a series of laws affecting undocumented immigrants. In the last year, Governor Brown signed the Trust Act, which limits the criteria by which a local law enforcement agency can comply with federal deportation hold requests. He also signed bills allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain a California driver’s licenses and be admitted as attorneys. In doing so, Brown said, “While Washington waffles on immigration, California’s forging ahead.”
With few signs of gridlock easing at the federal level and one party in control in Sacramento, it will be interesting to see where else California decides to forge ahead.