SAN FRANCISCO, September 26, 2023—An overwhelming majority of Californians—nearly nine in ten—say there is a mental health crisis in the United States today. Three in four Californians say that, compared to six months ago, they feel less comfortable today making a major purchase such as a home or a car. Meanwhile, Congressman Adam Schiff now leads in the March 2024 primary to replace retiring US Senator Dianne Feinstein. These are among the key findings from a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California.
Eighty-seven percent of Californians think there is a mental health crisis in the US today. This includes overwhelming majorities across party lines (91% Democrats, 90% independents, 85% Republicans), racial/ethnic groups (93% African Americans, 88% whites, 86% Latinos, 83% Asian Americans), and regions (89% Central Valley, 88% Inland Empire, 88% Los Angeles, 87% San Francisco Bay Area, 86% Orange/San Diego). About one-third of Californians (37%) say that the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on their own mental health. Latinos (42%) are most likely among racial/ethnic groups to say this (35% African Americans, 33% whites, 32% Asian Americans).
Asked if they have heard about the new 988 hotline that connects people with mental health services, a majority of Californians (56%) say they have not, while 24 percent say they have heard a little, 17 percent say some, and 4 percent say a lot.
“Overwhelming majorities of Californians say there is a mental health crisis in the US today,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC Statewide Survey director and Miller Chair in Public Policy. “About one in three say the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health. Most Californians are unaware of the new 988 mental health hotline.”
The new statewide survey also finds:
- Three in four say they are less comfortable making a major purchase now compared to six months ago. Seventy-five percent of Californians say that, compared to six months ago, they are less comfortable making a major purchase like a home or car. This includes strong majorities across income groups (87% annual household incomes of less than $40,000; 79% $40,000 to $79,999; 68% $80,000 or above), racial/ethnic groups (82% Latinos, 76% African Americans, 71% whites, 70% Asian Americans), and regions (85% Inland Empire, 79% Los Angeles, 77% Central Valley, 71% Orange/San Diego, and 66% San Francisco Bay Area). About two-thirds of Californians (65%) say they are less comfortable today making other household purchases compared to six months ago. This view is expressed by majorities across income groups (80% less than $40,000; 67% $40,000 to $79,999; 55% $80,000 or above), racial/ethnic groups (69% Latinos, 63% African Americans, 63% whites, 58% Asian Americans), and regions (73% Inland Empire, 70% Central Valley, 67% Los Angeles, 64% Orange/San Diego, 54% San Francisco Bay Area).
“Compared to six months ago, majorities of Californians across income and racial/ethnic groups and state regions say they feel less comfortable about making a major purchase like a home or car and making other household purchases,” Baldassare said.
- Schiff takes a narrow lead in the US Senate primary. Trump leads in the GOP presidential primary, but trails Biden in the general election—both by wide margins. Congressman Adam Schiff now leads in the March 2024 top-two primary to replace retiring Dianne Feinstein in the US Senate. Twenty percent of likely voters say they would vote for Schiff, with 15 percent saying Congresswoman Katie Porter and 8 percent saying Congresswoman Barbara Lee. PPIC’s July survey had Porter at 19 percent, Schiff at 16 percent, and Lee at 13 percent.
In the 2024 presidential race, former president Donald Trump leads California’s Republican primary by a wide margin (Trump 48% of Republican likely voters, Florida governor Ron DeSantis 14%, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley 7%, former vice president Mike Pence 7%, former Wyoming congresswoman Liz Cheney 5%). In a general election contest with President Joe Biden, Trump trails 57 percent to 26 percent among likely voters.
“Adam Schiff now leads in the top-two US Senate primary,” Baldassare said. “President Donald Trump is ahead of his rivals in the Republican presidential primary. If the 2024 election is a 2020 rematch, President Biden is favored over former President Trump by a wide margin.”
- A strong majority say immigration is good for the US. Most Californians disapprove of other states sending migrants to cities here, while solid majorities say the situation at the US/Mexico border is at least a major problem. Sixty-nine percent of Californians and 68 percent of likely voters say that, on the whole, immigration is a good thing for the country today. Asked about other states’ governments that have been sending hundreds of migrants to California cities, overwhelming majorities (73% adults, 78% likely voters) disapprove of this practice. This includes solid majorities of Californians across party affiliations (81% Democrats, 72% independents, 64% Republicans), regions (77% Orange/San Diego, 75% Los Angeles, 75% San Francisco Bay Area, 71% Central Valley, 68% Inland Empire), income groups (79% $80,000 or above; 71% $40,000 to $79,999; 65% less than $40,000), and racial/ethnic groups (77% Asian Americans, 77% whites, 69% Latinos, 65% African Americans).
“About two in three say that immigration is a good thing for the country today,” Baldassare said. “Majorities across political parties, regions of the state, and income and racial/ethnic groups disapprove of other state governments sending migrants to cities in California.”
Solid majorities of Californians say the situation at the US/Mexico border is either a crisis (27% adults, 33% likely voters) or a major problem (37% adults, 35% likely voters). Around three in four believe that increasing security along this border to reduce unauthorized crossings should be either a very important goal (36% adults, 44% likely voters) or a somewhat important goal (37% adults, 32% likely voters) of US immigration policy.
- About four in ten likely voters are satisfied with US democracy. A majority express confidence in California’s system of elections, with views split along party lines. Forty-two percent of likely voters say they are either very satisfied (5%) or somewhat satisfied (37%) with how democracy is working in the US. Across party lines, 44 percent of Democrats, 39 percent of independents, and 38 percent of Republicans are either very or somewhat satisfied with how US democracy is working.
Sixty-five percent of likely voters have a great deal (40%) or quite a lot (25%) of confidence in California’s electoral system. Views cut along party lines, with Democrats (56% great deal, 29% quite a lot) and independents (39% great deal, 20% quite a lot) expressing a higher level of confidence than Republicans (12% great deal, 21% quite a lot).
“About four in ten likely voters in California are satisfied with the way that US democracy is working including fewer than half across political parties,” Baldassare said. “Six in ten express a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in California’s election system with partisans deeply divided.”
About the Survey
The Californians and Their Government survey is supported with funding from the Arjay and Frances F. Miller Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation.
The findings are based on responses from 1,671 California adult residents. The sampling error is ±3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level for the total unweighted sample and ±3.7 percent for the 1,146 likely voters. Interviewing took place from August 25-September 5, 2023. For more information, please see the methodology section in the full survey report.
Mark Baldassare is statewide survey director at PPIC, where he holds the Arjay and Frances Fearing Miller Chair in Public Policy. He is founder of the PPIC Statewide Survey, which he has directed since 1998.
The Public Policy Institute of California is dedicated to informing and improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research. We are a public charity. We do not take or support positions on any ballot measure or on any local, state, or federal legislation, nor do we endorse, support, or oppose any political parties or candidates for public office. Research publications reflect the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of our funders or of the staff, officers, advisory councils, or board of directors of the Public Policy Institute of California.