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Blog Post · September 23, 2022

Video: Californians and Their Government

photo - California State Capitol

With just two months to go until the midterm election, Californians name jobs, the economy, and inflation as the top issue facing the state, and Governor Newsom has a sizable lead in the governor’s race, garnering support from 58% of likely voters. Last week, PPIC survey analyst Rachel Lawler presented findings from our September survey and discussed key takeaways with associate survey director Dean Bonner.

In addition to the economy, abortion is shaping up to be a major issue for voters nationwide. In California, 69% of likely voters support Proposition 1, which would establish a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to choose an abortion and contraceptives. Majorities across demographic groups and regions are in favor, but partisans are divided (86% Democrats, 67% independent, 33% Republicans).

A smaller majority of likely voters (55%) support Proposition 30, which would increase taxes on those earning over $2 million to fund zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and wildfire prevention. About three-quarters (74%) of Democrats and 54% of independents would vote yes, compared to 20% of Republicans. Bonner noted that Governor Newsom’s emerging role in the “No on 30” campaign could shift voter preferences: “We find that about three in four Democratic and independent likely voters who approve of Governor Newsom also support Prop 30. This group could potentially be impacted by the governor being a vocal opponent.”

The election will be highly consequential in determining control of Congress. In the ten competitive US House districts in California, as defined by the Cook Political Report, the Democratic candidate is preferred by a 16-point margin among likely voters (51% to 35%). For other California congressional races, “Democratic candidates are preferred by a 35-point margin in Democratic-held districts, while Republican candidates are preferred by an 8-point margin in Republican-held districts,” said Lawler.

Homelessness and crime are also top of mind. Nearly seven in ten Californians (68%) say homelessness is a big problem in their part of the state, with broad majorities saying this across partisan and demographic groups. About three in ten adults (31%) say violence and street crime are a big problem in their community (26% Democrats, 27% independents, 40% Republicans). Lawler noted that over the past couple years there has been an increase in the share of Californians saying violence and street crime are a big problem. From February 2011 to February 2020, this share was consistently about a quarter.

Though only 35% of Californians say the US is headed in the right direction, 53% approve of the way President Biden is handling his job. In fact, after experiencing a dip earlier in the year, Biden’s approval rating among independents has increased a little bit, said Bonner. This pattern is something the PPIC Statewide Survey will continue to track, as it may influence how voters feel about candidates down the ballot.


abortion crime Criminal Justice elections Gavin Newsom homelessness Housing jobs Joe Biden Political Landscape Statewide Survey US House of Representatives voters