SAN FRANCISCO, June 5, 2023—A majority of Californians favor changing state environmental regulations as a way to make housing more affordable. A majority say that addressing the federal debt limit should not be linked with spending cuts, though views vary widely across party lines. As state lawmakers work to finalize a new state budget, Governor Newsom’s revised spending plan has majority support. These are among the key findings from a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California.
Drawing on this new survey, PPIC is publishing a blog post by Statewide Survey Director and Miller Chair in Public Policy Mark Baldassare: “Californians’ Racial Attitudes and the Reparations Task Force.”
Asked about changing the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to reduce state regulations and thereby make housing more affordable in their part of the state, 59 percent of adults and 52 percent of likely voters express support. This includes about half or more across party lines (60% Republicans, 56% Democrats, 52% independents) and across regions (66% Los Angeles, 65% Inland Empire, 60% Central Valley, 52% San Francisco Bay Area, 50% Orange/San Diego). Renters (66%) are much more likely than homeowners (53%) to support changing CEQA in an effort to increase housing affordability.
“Amid widespread concerns about housing costs, nearly six in ten Californians approve of reforming CEQA as a way of increasing affordability,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC Statewide Survey director and Miller Chair in Public Policy. “This includes two in three California renters and slightly more than half of homeowners.”
The new statewide survey also finds:
- Partisans are divided on how to handle the federal debt limit, but most Californians believe the issue should not be linked to spending cuts. Overwhelming majorities are either very concerned (35% adults, 43% likely voters) or somewhat concerned (46% adults, 39% likely voters) that a federal government default on its debts could seriously damage the economy, including more than seven in ten across party lines. Majorities (59% adults, 62% likely voters) believe that the issues of debt payment and federal spending should be handled separately rather than allowing the federal government to pay debts only if the Biden administration agrees to cut spending, but views vary widely across party lines (handled separately: 75% Democrats, 58% independents, 34% Republicans).
“There are shared concerns that a government default on its debt could seriously damage the economy, but partisans are deeply divided on whether debt payment and federal spending should be handled separately,” Baldassare said.
- Around six in ten favor Newsom’s revised budget plan, with differences across party lines. Fifty-nine percent of adults and 61 percent of likely voters support Governor Newsom’s revised budget plan for the state fiscal year that begins July 1. Democrats (79%) are far more likely than independents (55%) or Republicans (30%) to approve.
Asked about raising the state taxes paid by some of California’s largest corporations, 47 percent of adults and 50 percent of likely voters are in favor. Democrats (65%) are far more likely than independents (42%) and Republicans (20%) to express support.
Solid majorities say they favor the governor’s budget plan for the next fiscal year after reading a summary, although partisans differ,” Baldassare said. “Half of likely voters favor raising state taxes on some of the largest California corporations, with partisans divided.”
- Trump holds a wide early lead in the state’s Republican primary but trails Biden head-to-head. If the 2024 Republican primary were held today, 50 percent of likely voters in this primary would opt for Donald Trump. This is well ahead of support for Florida governor Ron DeSantis (21%), former vice president Mike Pence (10%), and former Wyoming congresswoman Liz Cheney (7%). In a head-to-head general election between Trump and President Joe Biden, 58 percent of California likely voters say they would vote for Biden, 25 percent say they would vote for Trump, and 16 percent say they would vote for someone else.
“With California’s presidential primary less than a year away, Donald Trump holds a wide lead among the Republican field,” Baldassare said. “However, he trails President Biden by a large margin in a head-to-head general election.”
- Approval of Feinstein and McCarthy lags approval of other elected federal officials. Job approval for Senator Dianne Feinstein is 31 percent among California adults (27% likely voters), down notably from October 2022 (41% adults, 41% likely voters). Thirty percent of adults and 32 percent of likely voters approve of Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s performance, while 24 percent of adults and 21 percent of likely voters approve of how Congress is handling its job.
Fifty-one percent of California adults and 56 percent of likely voters approve of how President Biden is handling his job. This is similar to Californians’ approval for Senator Alex Padilla (48% adults, 56% likely voters) and their own representatives in the US House (47% adults, 55% likely voters).
“About half of Californians approve of President Joe Biden, Senator Alex Padilla, and their local US House member,” Baldassare said. “About three in ten approve of Senator Dianne Feinstein and Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and around two in ten approve of the US Congress.”
- A majority of Californians report financial hardships due to rising prices, including about three in four lower-income residents. Fifty-seven percent of Californians say that recent price increases have caused financial hardships for their household, with 23 percent saying that higher prices have caused serious hardship. Among those with annual household income of less than $40,000, 76 percent say rising prices have caused financial hardships, with 46 percent saying it has caused serious hardships.
The share of all Californians saying rising prices have caused serious hardships is down notably since last fall (23% today, 38% September 2022), while the share is basically unchanged among lower-income households (46% today, 50% September 2022).
“More than half of Californians say they have experienced financial hardships due to rising prices, with lower-income residents much more likely than others to say that rising prices have caused them serious hardships,” Baldassare said.
- Two-thirds of Californians value what immigrants bring to the state; most favor a path to citizenship and DACA protections. Solid majorities (66% adults, 63% likely voters) say that immigrants today are a benefit to California; the shares holding this view vary widely across party lines (84% Democrats, 66% independents, 26% Republicans).
Overwhelming majorities (80% adults, 81% likely voters)—including majorities across party lines—favor providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the US if they meet certain requirements. Overwhelming majorities (75% adults, 74% likely voters) also favor “DACA” (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) protections for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children.
“Californians view immigrants as a benefit to the state,” Baldassare said. “Most favor a path to citizenship for undocumented residents and DACA protections for those who arrived as children.”
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 1,576 California adult residents. The sampling error is ±3.2 percent for the total unweighted sample and ±3.9 percent for the 1,062 likely voters. Interviewing took place from May 17–24, 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.