SAN FRANCISCO, March 23, 2022—Following the invasion of Ukraine, most Californians—and majorities across party lines—favor imposing economic sanctions on Russia even if it means higher energy prices. On the pandemic front, Democrats are far more likely than independents and Republicans to say controlling COVID-19 is more important than having no restrictions on normal activities. And when it comes to economic conditions, around one-third of Californians—and nearly one-half of lower-income residents—say higher consumer prices are causing their household serious financial hardship. These are among the key findings of a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California.
Three-quarters of Californians (76%) favor sanctions against Russia, and 56 percent of residents (70% likely voters) support sanctions even if they lead to higher energy prices. Across party lines, 71 percent of Democrats, 57 percent of independents, and 54 percent of Republicans support sanctions even if energy prices go up. Sanctions have even higher support when their potential impact on energy prices is not taken into account, including solid majority support across partisan groups (86% Democrats, 76% independents, 73% Republicans) and regions (87% San Francisco Bay Area, 78% Los Angeles, 76% Orange/San Diego, 74% Central Valley, 62% Inland Empire).
“A majority of Californians favor imposing economic sanctions on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine even if it means higher energy prices,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “Majorities across partisan groups and regions of the state are supportive of these sanctions.”
About half of Californians (52% adults, 53% likely voters) approve of how President Joe Biden is handling the situation in Ukraine, with a deep partisan divide (79% Democrats, 43% independents, 22% Republicans approve). Fifty percent of adults and 46 percent of likely voters approve of how Biden is handling his job overall, with views again split by party (72% Democrats, 41% independents, 11% Republicans approve).
“Majorities approve of how President Biden is handling the situation involving Ukraine and Russia, with partisans deeply divided in their views,” Baldassare said. “Approval ratings are similar for the president’s overall job performance.”
The new statewide survey also finds:
- Around one-third of Californians—and nearly half of lower-income residents—are experiencing serious financial hardship from rising consumer prices. Two-thirds of Californians (67%) say recent price increases are causing financial hardship in their household, including 35 percent saying they are causing serious financial hardship. Among Californians with an annual household income under $40,000, 75 percent say higher prices are causing financial hardship, with 47 percent saying serious financial hardship.
“More than three in ten Californians say that recent price increases for household expenses have caused them serious financial hardship,” Baldassare said. “Remarkably, 47 percent of lower-income residents are experiencing serious financial hardship due to rising consumer prices.”
- One in four Californians—and four in ten lower-income residents—are very concerned about being able to pay their housing costs. A majority of Californians (55%) say they are concerned about having enough money to pay their rent or mortgage, including 26 percent who are very concerned. Four in ten with household incomes under $40,000 (41%) say they are very concerned about being able to pay for housing.
“About one in four Californians are very concerned about not having enough money to pay their rent or mortgage,” Baldassare said. “Moreover, 41 percent of lower-income residents are very concerned about not having enough money to cover their housing costs.”
- Six in ten say homelessness is a big problem in their part of the state. An overwhelming majority of Californians say homelessness is either a big problem (64%) or somewhat of a problem (25%) in their part of the state. The share saying it is a big problem varies by region (74% Central Valley, 70% Los Angeles, 64% San Francisco Bay Area, 57% both Inland Empire and Orange/San Diego). When asked about the presence of homeless people in their community today, 46 percent are very concerned and another 35 percent are somewhat concerned.
“A solid majority of Californians say that homelessness is a big problem in their part of the state,” Baldassare said. “Forty-six percent say they are very concerned about the presence of homeless people in their local community.”
- Partisans are divided on the need for restrictions to control the spread of COVID. Nearly eight in ten Californians (79%) say the worst of the COVID pandemic is behind us. The share expressing optimism was similar in March 2021 (74%) and at a record high in May 2021 (86%), after case numbers had temporarily decreased and state mandates had relaxed. Today, about a third of Californians are very (14%) or somewhat (20%) concerned about getting COVID and requiring hospitalization.
Forty-six percent of Californians feel strongly that it is more important to control the spread of COVID than to have no restrictions on normal activities. Views vary across partisan groups, with Democrats (65%) far more likely than independents (37%) and Republicans (17%) to feel strongly that controlling COVID should be the priority.
“Perceptions about where the US stands in the COVID outbreak are similar to a year ago,” Baldassare said. “Californians are divided along partisan lines when it comes to restrictions to try to control the virus’s spread.”
- Californians view their own representatives more favorably than they do Congress overall. Fewer than four in ten Californians (37% adults, 24% likely voters) approve of how the US Congress is handling its job. However, around half or more (55% adults, 49% likely voters) approve of their own representative in the US House of Representatives. Across partisan groups, 64 percent of Democrats, 45 percent of independents, and 37 percent of Republicans approve of their own US House representative.
“While 37 percent approve of Congress overall, 55 percent of Californians approve of their own representative to the US House of Representatives,” Baldassare said. “Democrats have a more positive view than Republicans when it comes to approval of their own representatives.”
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 presented above are based on responses from 1,672 California adult residents. The sampling error is ±4.1 percent for the total unweighted sample and ±5.2 percent for the 1,203 likely voters. Interviewing took place from March 6–17, 2022. For more information, please see the methodology section in the full survey report.
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.