SAN FRANCISCO, March 22, 2017—Most Californians disapprove of President Donald Trump’s order banning travel to the US by people from six majority Muslim countries, according to a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) with funding from the James Irvine Foundation.
When Californians are asked about the president’s revised order to temporarily ban travelers from the six nations, 58 percent disapprove while 37 percent approve. There is a sharp partisan divide on the question: 85 percent of Republicans approve, 81 percent of Democrats disapprove, and independents are more likely to disapprove (54%) than approve (42%).
“As the new administration’s terrorism policies take shape, most Californians are opposed to the travel ban involving six Muslim majority countries,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO.
When Californians are asked to assess how Trump is handling terrorism and homeland security, 57 percent disapprove (37% approve).
Most Californians say the federal government is doing very well (19%) or fairly well (38%) at reducing the threat of terrorism. More than half of residents across parties, regions, and demographic groups say the government is doing well. This view is most widely held among Republicans (70%) and residents of the Inland Empire (67%), where the terrorist attack in San Bernardino occurred in December 2015.
Only about a quarter of state residents (27%) today call terrorism and security a big problem in California. The percentage of Californians characterizing terrorism as a big problem has dropped 16 points since January 2016 and is now similar to what it had been in periodic surveys dating back to December 2001. Across regions, residents in the Inland Empire (34%) are the most likely to call terrorism a big problem and those in the San Francisco Bay Area (21%) the least likely.
Regarding another aspect of anti-terrorism policies, about half of Californians (52%) say the government has gone too far in restricting civil liberties, while 36 percent say the government has not gone far enough to protect the country.
Two-Thirds Favor Path to Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants
A strong majority of Californians (68%) say that undocumented immigrants living in the US should be allowed to stay and eventually apply for citizenship, while 12 percent say undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay legally but not be allowed to apply for citizenship. Only 15 percent say these immigrants should be required to leave. Across parties, an overwhelming majority of Democrats (82%) and a solid majority of independents (62%) say undocumented immigrants should be allowed to eventually apply for citizenship, as do 46 percent of Republicans.
How important is immigration policy to Californians? When asked to name the most important issue facing the state, immigration or illegal immigration is No. 2 (16%), behind jobs and the economy (20%).
Just a quarter of Californians (25%) favor building a wall along the entire border with Mexico, as the president proposes. A strong majority of Republicans (68%) are in favor of the wall, while overwhelming majorities of independents (73%) and Democrats (92%) oppose it. Majorities across racial/ethnic groups, regions, and age, education, and income groups are opposed.
“The proposal to build a wall along the entire Mexican border is not gaining any traction in California,” Baldassare said.
Most Support Business, Environmental Regulation
As President Trump focuses on reducing government regulations, the survey asks Californians what they think about government regulation of business. Most state residents (56%) say it is necessary to protect the public interest, while 37 percent say it does more harm than good. Across partisan groups, 69 percent of Democrats say business regulation is necessary and 65 percent of Republicans say it does more harm than good. In the area of environmental regulation, just over half of Californians (54%) say stricter environmental laws and regulations are worth the costs, while 37 percent say stricter environmental laws and regulations cost too many jobs and hurt the economy.
A Third Approve of Trump’s Job Performance
About a third of Californians (31% all adults, 35% likely voters) approve of the job President Trump is doing. His approval rating is unchanged from January (30% adults, 34% likely voters). Partisan divisions today remain deep (82% Republicans approve, 91% Democrats and 57% independents disapprove). Men are 15 points more likely than women to approve (39% to 24%), and whites (45%) are more likely than Latinos (17%) and African Americans (16%) to approve. Asked whether Trump is trustworthy, 31 percent of adults and 35 percent of likely voters say yes; 64 percent of adults and likely voters say no.
Slightly more than a third of California adults (36%) and a quarter of likely voters (27%) approve of the way Congress is handling its job. Republicans (48%) are much more likely than Democrats (23%) or independents (28%) to approve. Among Republicans, approval has increased 9 points since January (39%). About half of Californians (51% adults, 49% likely voters) approve of their own representative to the US House.
Half of Californians (49% adults, 51% likely voters) approve of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s job performance. As Senator Kamala Harris begins her term, she has a 46 percent approval rating from all adults and 49 percent from likely voters. Notably, about 30 percent of adults and 25 percent of likely voters are unsure how to rate Harris.
How much trust do Californians place in the federal government in Washington? Just under a third say they can trust government to do what is right just about always (7%) or most of the time (22%). Most (62%) say they can trust it some of the time, and 7 percent say none of the time. In periodic surveys since 1998, fewer than half have said they trust the government just about always or most of the time.
Majorities Approve of Governor
Governor Jerry Brown has a job approval rating of 58 percent among all adults and 61 percent among likely voters. His rating is similar to January (62% both all adults and likely voters) and higher than last March (51% adults, 53% likely voters). Today his approval rating is 79 percent among Democrats, 53 percent among independents, and 26 percent among Republicans. About half of Californians (51% adults, 48% likely voters) approve of the way the legislature is doing its job. Similar proportions of residents (53% adults, 52% likely voters) approve of their representatives in the assembly and senate.
Most Favor Spending on Flood Management
In the aftermath of widespread flooding and a crisis at Oroville Dam, a solid majority of residents (61%) say it is very important for California to spend more money on water and flood management infrastructure in their part of the state. An additional 27 percent say this is somewhat important. Majorities across regions say more spending in this area is very important.
“After the recent rains, many Californians have added water and flood management to their wish list for meeting the state’s infrastructure needs,” Baldassare said.
Asked about the governor’s proposal to build tunnels in the Sacramento–San Joaquin Valley Delta, about half (51%) say it is very important (26% somewhat important, 14% not too important or not at all important). There are wide regional differences: 64 percent of Los Angeles residents call the tunnels very important but just 40 percent in the Central Valley express this view. Opinion within the Central Valley varies: in the San Joaquin Valley 79 percent of residents say the tunnels are at least somewhat important, while 58 percent of Sacramento Metro and North Valley residents express this view.
Residents Split on High-Speed Rail
Californians are closely divided between favoring (48%) and opposing (46%) construction of a high-speed rail system in California. A total of 66 percent say they would favor high-speed rail if it cost less than the current estimate of $64 billion over the next 20 years. Across regions, support for high-speed rail is highest in Los Angeles (56%) and lowest in the Central Valley (39%).
Most Say Criminal Justice System Inequitable
A quarter of residents (25%) call violence and street crime a big problem in their communities (35% somewhat of a problem). In January 2016, 20 percent called it a big problem. The view that crime is a big problem is more common in the Central Valley (32%) and Los Angeles (29%) than in Orange/San Diego (20%) and the San Francisco Bay Area (19%). It is also somewhat more common among Latinos (32%) and African Americans (30%) than among whites (22%) and other racial/ethnic groups (19%).
How are local police doing in controlling crime? Two-thirds of residents say police are doing an excellent job (30%) or a good one (35%). African Americans (38%) are far less likely to say police are doing an excellent or good job than are Latinos (62%), whites (74%), and members of other racial/ethnic groups (63%). Solid majorities across parties say police are doing an excellent or good job.
Two-thirds of residents (66%) say that blacks and other minorities do not receive treatment equal to whites in the criminal justice system—up from 55 percent in January 2015. Today, 90 percent of African Americans express this view, as do solid majorities of Latinos, whites, and Californians in other racial/ethnic groups. This view is also more common among younger adults than older ones (74% age 18–34, 68% 35–54, 56% 55 and older).
“While most Californians give excellent or good ratings to their local police, there is a large and growing belief that there are racial disparities in the criminal justice system,” Baldassare said.
State, Local Tax System Considered Fair
As the April tax filing deadline approaches, most Californians say the state and local tax system is fair (6% very fair, 49% moderately fair). However, most residents also say they pay more taxes to state and local governments than they feel they should (35% much more, 23% somewhat more). At the same time, less than half (42%) say major changes are needed in the state and local tax systems.
About the Survey
The PPIC Statewide Survey was conducted with funding from the James Irvine Foundation, the California Endowment, and the PPIC Donor Circle. Findings are based on a telephone survey of 1,706 California adult residents, including 1,106 interviewed on cell phones and 600 interviewed on landline telephones. Interviews took place from March 5–14, 2017. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish, according to respondents’ preferences.
The sampling error, taking design effects from weighting into consideration, is ±3.3 percent for all adults, ±3.7 percent for the 1,385 registered voters, and ±4.2 percent for the 1,069 likely voters. For the 1,500 adults asked Q22b (travel ban) from March 6–14, the sampling error is ±3.5 percent. More information on methodology begins on page 21.
Mark Baldassare is president and CEO of 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.