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Statewide Survey

PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and Their Government

By Mark Baldassare

Some findings of the survey

  • Among likely voters, the Democratic ticket of Senators John Kerry and John Edwards holds a 12-point lead over the ticket of Republican President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney (51% to 39%).
  • U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer holds an 18-point lead among likely voters over Republican challenger Bill Jones (53% to 35%).
  • Proposition 63 — a ballot measure that would fund expansion of mental health services by raising the personal income tax on those making over $1million annually by 1 percent — is backed by 62% of likely voters.
  • Proposition 71 — a proposal to fund stem cell research in California with a $3 billion state bond issue — is favored by an 11-point margin and is supported by half of likely voters (50% to 39%).
  • Proposition 72 — a referendum on legislation passed last year requiring all large and medium employers in the state to provide health insurance for their employees — remains short of the majority needed to approve the law (41% to 38%).
  • One year after Governor Schwarzenegger’s historic election, Californians remain impressed with his performance.  Eight in ten say the governor has met (41%) or exceeded (40%) their expectations, and 61% of Californians approve of the way he is handling his job.

This is the 51st PPIC Statewide Survey and the 19th in a series of large-scale public opinion polls that PPIC is conducting on a periodic basis throughout California's election cycles.  The purpose of this series is to develop an objective, in-depth profile of the social, economic, and political forces affecting public policy preferences and ballot choices in California.


The Ties That Bind: Changing Demographics and Civic Engagement in California

By Mark Baldassare, Karthick Ramakrishnan

This volume provides the first detailed and comprehensive picture of the relationship between demographic diversity and citizen involvement in civic affairs in California. The authors examine participation rates of various demographic groups across a wide range of political and volunteer activities. Their principal finding is that those who have the most say in California elections are also those who participate more in the broader civic life of the state. Demographic differences in participation associated with voting are also found in activities such as writing letters to elected officials, signing petitions, and contributing money to political causes. Specifically, those who are native-born, white, older, more affluent, homeowners, and more highly educated demonstrate the highest levels of civic engagement.

Statewide Survey

PPIC Statewide Survey: Special Survey on the California State Budget

By Mark Baldassare

This survey – the first in a series of special surveys on the California state budget, conducted in collaboration with The James Irvine Foundation – is a special edition of the PPIC Statewide Survey. The intent of this series is to raise public awareness, inform decisionmakers, and stimulate public discussion about the current state budget and the underlying state and local finance system.

Some findings of the current survey

  • Nearly all Californians (94%) say that the state's budget deficit is a big problem (73%) or somewhat of a problem (21%).
  • Most Californians are opposed to spending cuts in public programs as well as to increases in taxes or fees.
  • Only 34% of all adults say that they trust the government in Sacramento to do what is right just about always or most of the time.
  • 75% of likely voters disapprove of the way Governor Davis is handling his job, and 57% of the state's residents disapprove of the way the legislature is handling budget issues.
  • Nearly six in 10 respondents believe that the better way to improve the national economy is to reduce the deficit rather than cut tax (58% to 34%).

Statewide Survey

PPIC Statewide Survey: Special Survey of Los Angeles County

By Mark Baldassare

This survey is a special edition of the PPIC Statewide Survey, which periodically includes regional and special-theme surveys. This particular survey provides an objective, in-depth profile of the public opinions, policy preferences, and economic, social, and political trends in Los Angeles County – the most populous county in the nation.

Some findings of the current survey

  • 71% of county residents say that when it comes to solving problems, the county government's performance is fair (49%) or poor (22%).
  • Residents believe that most decisions about important issues should be made by local voters at the ballot box (78%), not elected officials (18%).
  • 76% of county residents describe themselves as very (42%) or somewhat (34%) concerned that they or someone in their family will become a crime victim. Most Latinos (67%) and Central/Southeast area residents (54%) say they are very worried about crime victimization.
  • Only 24% of residents rate the LA County economy today as excellent or good, while 48% say it is fair and 27% rate it as poor.
  • Far more residents today (67%) than just one year ago (52%) predict bad economic times for the state over the next 12 months.


A California State of Mind: The Conflicted Voter in a Changing World

By Mark Baldassare

Based on the findings of the most comprehensive public opinion surveys in the state, this volume focuses on the political climate in California at the turn of the century-a climate that was and still is largely influenced by Californians' deeply ingrained distrust of government and lack of faith in elected officials.  The state's electricity crisis, recent corporate scandals, and current state budget deficit have only served to deepen this distrust.  Baldassare offers examples of the ways in which voter distrust distorts the state's policymaking efforts and hampers California's ability to prepare for its challenging future.  He shows how distrust is being expressed today in the ballot choices voters are making in statewide elections, the demands they are making for reform of government, and the restrictions they are imposing on government in the absence of that reform.


Municipal Elections in California: Turnout, Timing, and Competition

By Paul Lewis, Zoltan L. Hajnal, Hugh Louch

Low voter turnout for municipal elections in California has raised concerns about declining civic participation and its potential consequences.  This study documents voter turnout in California’s municipal elections and investigates the causes of turnout differences.  To assess the political vibrancy of municipal elections, it also examines the degree of competition for and turnover in municipal offices.  Using data from a questionnaire completed by 350 city clerks in California, the authors calculate that less than half of all registered voters living in cities cast ballots in the most recent municipal elections.  However, they also note that overall turnout in city elections could be increased substantially by rescheduling more of them to coincide with state and national contests.

Occasional Paper, Report

The California Initiative Process-How Democratic Is It?

Prepared for the event "The California Initiative Process--How Democratic?", February 7, 2002.

Co-sponsored by The Commonwealth Club of California and the Public Policy Institute of California

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