Hoover Institution Golden State Poll Finds That Likely Voters Trust Governor Brown and Prioritize Fiscal Issues and Water

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Golden State Poll
Golden State Poll

On January 5, California governor Jerry Brown delivered his second, second-term inaugural address that also doubled as his 2015 State of the State address.  Keeping to his brief ways, Governor Brown’s twenty-two-minute speech touched on the policy items he intends to pursue this coming year and  his last term in office including combating climate change, prefunding California’s unfunded retiree health-care obligations, and investing in the state’s infrastructure.  According to the newly released Hoover Institution Golden State Poll, 26 percent, 34 percent, and 47 percent, respectively, of likely California voters named those policy issues as a top priority for 2015.

The survey, administered by the survey research firm YouGov from December 9, 2014, to January 4, 2015, sampled 1,699 Californians, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent for the full sample, including a subsample of 957 most likely voters.

In addition to the economic confidence questions asked across all Golden State Polls, the first Golden State Poll of 2015 examined Californians’ policy priorities for 2015 and their trust in California’s governance. 

As had been the case in 2014, fiscal issues topped Californians’ top priority list with “strengthening the state’s economy” coming in as the top priority for 2015 at 72 percent.  Sixty-six percent named “improving the job situation” as the top priority; 61 percent consider “balancing the state’s budget” as the number-one issue.  Given the amount of attention paid to California’s ongoing drought, “dealing with the state’s water problems” jumped from the eleventh priority in January 2014 to the second at 69 percent.

Although a slim majority–54 percent–believes that Governor Brown has been truthful in his handling of the state budget, some caveats persist.  Just 33 percent believe he has been truthful all the time; another 21 percent think he’s been truthful just some of the time.  When asked whether the governor and the executive branch or the state legislature are more likely to be trusted to handle California’s public policy issues, however, a clear plurality–35 percent– of probable voters named the governor and executive branch.  Interestingly, despite the strong Democratic majority in the state legislature, more Republicans than Democrats (36 percent to 19 percent) trust the state legislature. 

Yet when given the choice between the state government and local government, California’s likely voters overwhelmingly trust local government (41 percent) over the state government (34 percent).  Here we see a strong partisan split, with 69 percent of Republicans trusting local government and 57 percent of Democrats trusting the state government. 

Californians’ economic confidence is stuck in neutral.  Forty-nine percent say they are financially the same as a year ago;  50 percent say their financial situation will be the same in six months.  Fifty-one percent believe their financial situation is about the same as others in their community. 

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The Hoover Institution Golden State Poll is conducted regularly throughout the year by researchers at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, in partnership with the survey research firm YouGov. The January 2015 Hoover investigators are Carson Bruno; Jeremy Carl; Lanhee Chen, PhD; Tammy Frisby, PhD; and Bill Whalen.  Survey respondents are matched on a set of individual characteristics; the sample is statistically weighted based on estimates from the American Community Survey, the Current Population Survey, and the Pew Religious Landscape Survey.