PPIC Logo Independent, objective, nonpartisan research
Blog Post · December 18, 2018

Video: Californians and Their Government

California State Capitol Building In The Evening

As Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom prepares for his first term, half of Californians think he should take a different policy direction than Governor Brown. Four in ten approve of Newsom’s plans and priorities—while three in ten don’t yet know enough to have an opinion. These and other key findings of the latest PPIC Statewide Survey were outlined by Dean Bonner at a Sacramento briefing last week.

The survey asked Californians about four major policy areas that were highlighted in the governor’s campaign. Most see universal health coverage and free community college as top priorities, while fewer see universal preschool as a high or very high priority and only one in four prioritize high-speed rail.

The survey also asked how the state should use the projected surplus in the next budget year. A majority of Californians say they would prefer to use the surplus to increase funding for education and health and human services. Far fewer prefer to use it to pay down debt and build up a reserve or to spend on one-time funding for transportation, water, and infrastructure.

When asked to identify the state government’s highest priority in planning for the future, 39% name improving jobs and the economy, 20% say protecting the environment, and 15% say updating water and transportation infrastructure. Improving jobs and the economy is the highest priority across all parties and demographic groups.

Other survey highlights:

  • Two-thirds of Californians say the state is divided into two economic groups: the “haves” and the “have nots.” Four in ten characterize themselves as haves and 45% say they are have nots.
  • While more than half of Californians think the state is generally headed in the right direction, only about a third are satisfied with the way things are going in the nation. Half have no confidence that President Trump will make the right decisions for the country’s future.
  • Only two in ten likely voters approve of Congress; more than half see the shift in control of the US House from the Republicans to the Democrats as a good thing.
  • Two-thirds of state residents continue to see immigrants as a benefit, and there is still bipartisan support for allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the US legally if certain requirements are met.


elections Gavin Newsom Health & Safety Net Higher Education Jerry Brown K–12 Education Political Landscape Population Statewide Survey voters