Californians unsure about climate change law and economic recovery, according to Hoover Institution Golden State Poll

Thursday, September 26, 2013
Hoover Golden State Poll
Hoover Golden State Poll

On September 26, the Hoover Institution released the first results from its Golden State Poll, a series that will be periodically released in the run up to next year’s general election. This first poll, which surveys one thousand Californians about their views on personal financial well-being and pressing energy policy issues in the state, places a special emphasis on climate change and the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32).

Listen to Hoover fellows discuss the poll.

Among the findings, 42 percent of Californians report that they would like the state revenues generated by AB 32 to be refunded to taxpayers, as opposed to allocating them to other expenditures, such as a high-speed rail project, energy technology, education, or health care. The poll also finds large partisan differences in what Californians think AB 32 will mean for gasoline prices and electricity bills, with Republicans expecting significant price increases. This is particularly meaningful since 70 percent of Californians surveyed said they were currently making at least one substantial change in their daily activities or spending choices because of the price of gasoline.

In addition, the poll finds that California Republicans have diverse views on climate change, with 36 percent of respondents who self-identified as Republican saying that it is a very or somewhat serious problem, compared with 57 percent who said it was not very or not at all serious. Despite high energy prices, Californians are almost perfectly split in their views on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), with 38 percent describing their view as positive, 40 percent, negative, and 22 percent, not yet sure.

Beyond the data about climate change, the poll also finds the respondents less confident about the future economic environment than was expected given recent media coverage, with 33 percent of Californians surveyed reporting they and their families are worse off financially than they were one year ago, and 47 percent reporting that they and their families are about the same financially as one year ago. Using data from this and the future installments in the Golden State Poll series, the Hoover Institution plans to develop an economic confidence index to assess changes over time of the economic perceptions of Californians.

For analysis of the poll results, please see the Defining Ideas article “What California Comeback?” by Hoover research fellows Carson Bruno and Jeremy Carl, as well as the post on Hoover’s blog Eureka. To see other findings or explore the poll in more depth, see the pdf of the full topline results and crosstabs.