TITLE: Public Opinion and the California Governor's Recall in 2003

AUTHOR: Mark Baldassare

PAGES: 33      DATE: May 2004

ABSTRACT: We examine the climate of public opinion during the California governor’s recall in 2003. We repeated a series of attitude questions in the PPIC Statewide Surveys that included six survey waves and RDD telephone interviews with 12,011 California adults. Most Californians reported that their state was headed in the wrong direction, relatively few said that they trusted state government, and most said that they disapproved of the way that Governor Gray Davis was handling his job. Indeed, public attitudes on all of these dimensions were more negative than in the past. At the same time, most Californians reported that they liked the recall process in concept, and about half said that they were pleased with its current use and satisfied with the replacement candidates on the ballot. We find that support for the recall was consistent over time and significantly and consistently correlated with negative political attitudes and positive recall attitudes, even when accounting for political and demographic characteristics. We discuss the implications of these findings for the future use and success of recalls along with the public’s support for making specific changes in the recall process.

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