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Video: Californians and Their Government

Stephanie Barton October 28, 2020
photo - California State Capital

PPIC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. PPIC does not take or support positions on any ballot measure or on any local, state, or federal legislation, nor does it support, endorse, or oppose any political parties or candidates for public office.

The top two issues on the minds of Californians are COVID-19 and jobs and the economy, according to the latest PPIC statewide survey. Concerns about issues can affect how adults vote—and in what may be the most consequential election in a lifetime, 72% of likely voters are more enthusiastic than usual about voting in November, which is a record high for a PPIC survey.

On October 22, PPIC researcher Rachel Lawler presented findings from the survey, which gauges attitudes and policy preferences of adults around the state. Lawler then discussed insights and takeaways from the report with Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO.

Approval ratings for President Trump stand at 35% among California adults. The number has remained fairly consistent since he took office, although more than eight in ten Republicans approve of the president. As the November election approaches, California likely voters prefer the Biden-Harris ticket by 26 points over the Trump-Pence ticket. Partisans overwhelmingly support their candidate in the presidential race as well as prefer their party’s candidate for Congress.

California voters remain divided on upcoming ballot measures, where support for Proposition 15 and Proposition 16 has changed little since September. A slim majority support Prop 15, which changes tax assessment of commercial properties; voters are more likely to vote no on Prop 16, which repeals the ban on affirmative action.

However, with coronavirus still a top concern, many Californians share similar attitudes toward a COVID-19 vaccine. “Efforts to develop and test COVID-19 vaccines are currently underway, and there is a possibility that one or more may be available by the end of the year,” Lawler said. A majority of adults would take a vaccine if one becomes available—but trust diverges sharply along racial and ethnic lines. Asian Americans and whites are more open to taking the vaccine, while Latinos and African Americans express hesitation.

There is less consensus than in past surveys as to the most important issue facing our state. In addition to COVID and the economy, topics like global warming, homelessness, housing availability, the state budget, and wildfires rise to the top for many Californians. “It’s such a remarkable list because it’s been such an unprecedented year,” Mark Baldassare said. The extensive list gives a sense of the scope of the crisis Californians see the state and nation facing today.

Another surprise was the record level of enthusiasm people expressed for voting. “Nearly three out of four and across political parties are enthusiastic about voting,” Baldassare said. “We are anticipating very strong turnout this year, and this will have implications for everything on the ballot.”

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