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Press Release · February 20, 2020

Slim Majority Supports School Facilities Bond


Note: Results on the Democratic presidential primary, in terms of candidate choice and electability, and on Governor Newsom’s approval rating were released publicly on Tuesday, February 18, and are not under this embargo.

SAN FRANCISCO, February 20, 2020— A March ballot measure to authorize state bonds for public education facilities is supported by slightly more than half of voters. Seven in ten Californians approve of Governor Newsom’s proposal to spend $1 billion to address homelessness. These are among the key findings of a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California.

California’s March 3 ballot includes a $15 billion bond for the construction and modernization of public education facilities. Slightly more than half (51%) of likely voters approve, 42 percent oppose, and 8 percent are undecided. In January, 53 percent said yes, 36 percent no, and 10 percent were undecided. Democrats (69%) are far more likely to say they will vote yes than independents (47%) or Republicans (24%). Among likely voters, 43 percent say the outcome of the vote is very important to them.

“The Proposition 13 state school bond has a slim majority going into the March primary vote and gets a big boost from its strong support among Democratic likely voters,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “Fewer than half who would vote yes or no on Proposition 13 say the outcome of the vote on the state school bond is very important to them.”

Most Are Concerned About Housing Affordability, While a Majority Supports Governor’s Spending Plan to Address Homelessness

Most Californians (63%) say housing affordability is a big problem in their part of the state, and another 25 percent say it is somewhat of a problem. About four in ten Californians (44% adults, 38% likely voters) say the cost of living is making them seriously consider moving elsewhere in California or out of state. Younger Californians are more likely to consider moving (55% of those age 18 to 34, 45% 35 to 54, 33% 55 and older), and renters (54%) are far more likely than homeowners (32%) to consider moving. Most considering moving say they would leave California rather than relocate within the state.

“Many Californians say that housing affordability is a big problem in their part of California, and younger adults and renters are especially likely to say that housing costs are making them seriously consider moving out of state,” Baldassare said.

Most Californians (61%) say homelessness is a big problem in their part of the state. Majorities (70% adults, 64% likely voters) support Governor Newsom’s plan to spend $1 billion to address homelessness. Most also favor a constitutional amendment—which could be on the November ballot—to mandate that the state and localities provide sufficient housing or shelter beds to put every homeless person under a roof (63% adults, 55% likely voters).

“Solid majorities of Californians say that homelessness is a big problem in their part of the state and support the governor’s $1 billion spending plan to address homelessness as well as a government mandate to put every homeless person under a roof,” Baldassare said.

Views Are Mixed on Governor’s High-Speed Rail Plan, While Most Approve of Delta Tunnel Plan and Climate Change Bond

Governor Newsom’s plans to scale back the high-speed rail project started under Governor Brown meet with mixed reviews: 49 percent say Newsom’s plan is a good idea, and 41 percent say it is a bad idea. Meanwhile, Newsom continues to call for a single Delta water tunnel, scaled back from the twin tunnels favored by Governor Brown. Most (58%) say Newsom’s tunnel plan is a good idea, while only about three in ten (28%) say it is a bad idea.

“The governor’s plans for high-speed rail get mixed reviews, while most support his plan to build one instead of two tunnels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta,” Baldassare said.

Newsom’s budget plan would place a $4.75 billion bond on the November ballot, with the funds going to address climate change risks. A majority of Californians (65% adults, 59% likely voters) approve.

“Looking to the November election, the majority of Californians support the governor’s proposal for a $4.75 billion state bond to address climate risks,” Baldassare said.

Most Californians (53%) approve of how Governor Newsom is handling his job, while one-third (33%) disapprove. This is Governor Newsom’s highest approval rating to date. Democrats (75%) are far more likely to approve than independents (45%) or Republicans (15%).

Pessimism Grows About Americans of Different Views Working Together

Californians are divided on the prospects for Americans of different political views coming together to work out their differences, with 49 percent optimistic and 48 percent pessimistic. The level of pessimism has grown since January 2019 (58% optimistic, 40% pessimistic).

“In the wake of the House impeachment and Senate trial votes that were largely along party lines, growing proportions of Californians express pessimism that Americans of different political views can work together,” Baldassare said.

Sanders Leads in California’s Democratic Presidential Primary

With less than two weeks until California’s March primary, Bernie Sanders is the choice of 32 percent of Democratic primary likely voters, with 14 percent for Joe Biden, 13 percent for Elizabeth Warren, 12 percent for Michael Bloomberg, and 12 percent for Pete Buttigieg. No other candidate has more than 5 percent support; 8 percent are undecided. In January, the primary was a three-way race, with 27 percent supporting Sanders, 24 percent Biden, and 23 percent Warren.

Among younger voters (age 18 to 44), Sanders (53%) has far more support than other candidates (13% Buttigieg, 13% Warren, 9% Biden, 8% Bloomberg), while voters age 45 and older are more evenly divided. Sanders is the top choice among men (38%) and women (28%) as well as among Latinos (53%).

Asked which candidate has the best chance of defeating Donald Trump, 34 percent say Sanders, 16 percent say Biden, and another 16 percent say Bloomberg.

“Bernie Sanders leads all candidates in the Democratic presidential primary today, and he is most likely to be named by voters as the candidate who can win against Donald Trump in November,” Baldassare said. “As the campaign moves to larger and more diverse states, Sanders’ support among Latinos and younger voters is noteworthy.”

About the Survey

The Californians and Their Government survey is supported with funding from the Arjay and Frances F. Miller Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation, and the PPIC Donor Circle.

Findings in this report are based on a survey of 1,702 California adult residents, including 1,259 interviewed on cell phones and 443 interviewed on landline telephones. The sample included 512 respondents reached by calling back respondents who had previously completed an interview in PPIC Statewide Surveys in the last six months. Interviews took an average of 18 minutes to complete. Interviewing took place on weekend days and weekday nights from February 7–17, 2020. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish, according to respondents’ preferences.

The sampling error, taking design effects from weighting into consideration, is ±3.4 percent for all adults, ±3.8 percent for the 1,400 registered voters, ±4.4 percent for the 1,046 likely voters, and ±5.7 percent for the 573 Democratic primary likely voters (including Democrats and independent voters who say they will vote in the Democratic primary). For more information on methodology, see page 20.

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.