TITLE: After the California Recall: Governor’s Approval Ratings, Trust in Government, and Preferences for Direct Democracy

AUTHOR: Mark Baldassare

PAGES: 37      DATE: May 2005

ABSTRACT: Did the California recall election in 2003 result in shifts in public attitudes toward the governor, state government, and direct democracy? To answer this question, this paper analyzes a series of RDD telephone surveys conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California, including interviews with 16,403 registered voters. Since the recall election, we found a significant increase in the governor’s approval ratings and positive perceptions of the direction of the state, but no change in distrust of state government. We also found no change in opinions about the recall process and initiative process, which remain highly positive. Multivariate analyses indicate that the new governor’s approval ratings are correlated with trust in state government and a belief that the state is headed in the right direction. Positive attitudes toward the recall and initiative processes are highly associated with approval of the governor and the perception that the state is headed in the right direction. There are differences across political groups in the governor’s approval ratings, trust in government, and attitudes toward direct democracy. The implications of recent findings are discussed in light of the important role of initiatives in state policymaking.

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