Hoover Institution Golden State Poll Finds Open Race for Second in Gubernatorial Field; Sacramento and Voters’ Policy Priorities at Opposites

Thursday, May 29, 2014
May release of the Hoover Golden State Poll

STANFORD – With Californians headed to the polls next Tuesday, the Hoover Institution’s Golden State Poll finds Governor Jerry Brown holding a commanding lead in the gubernatorial primary, with conservative Republican Assemblyman Tim  Donnelly leading businessman Neel Kashkari for second-place and the right to face Brown in the general election.

The survey, administered by the survey research firm YouGov, sampled 1,000 Californians from May 7-19, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.99% for the full sample.

Brown received 36% of support from registered voters, with Donnelly earning 12% and Kashkari 5%. Businessman Glenn Champ finished fourth, with 4%. Donnelly enjoyed a 2-1 edge over Kashkari among Republicans and a 3-1 margin among independents. However, 42% of Republicans and 40% of independents remain undecided.

“Unlike 2010, when the two Republican candidates spent nearly $109 million in a hotly contested gubernatorial primary, this year’s contest is a low-budget affair that hasn’t resonated with voters as evidenced by the high number of undecideds,” said Bill Whalen, a Hoover Institution research fellow who oversees the Golden State Poll. “Given that uncertainty, all bets are off as to who places and who shows in the governor’s race.”

The survey also asked Californians if the open-primary system, in effect for the first time in statewide constitutional contests since its ballot passage in 2010, has piqued their interest. Four-in-ten voters said the new system has made them more interested in learning about the candidates.

“In this early stage, most Californians doubt that the reform can live up to its promise,” said Tammy Frisby, Ph.D., a Hoover research fellow who manages the survey’s design and data analysis. “Only one in four voters believe that the open primary system will lead to progress on important public policy issues. Voters who told us they were most interested in following the news and public affairs were less likely than other voters to think the reform would help – 21% versus 31%.”

The Golden State Poll also sought Californians’ opinions on what to be done with the state’s $2.2 billion surplus and the recent spate of ethics violations plaguing the California State Legislature. As per usual, the survey also sampled California voters on their economic confidence and well-being.

Among the highlights:

  • Voters remain fiscally cautious. The top four choices for allocating the surplus: taxpayer refund (20%), K-12 education (14%), responding to future water shortages (13%), and rainy-day fund (12%). Only 2% chose preschool for 4-year-olds – a must-have item for Democratic lawmakers.
  • Blame all-around for Sacramento’s ethics woes. Voters chalked it up to a culture of corruption in the state legislature (29%), too much money in politics (28%), and lack of lawmakers’ integrity (27%). Only 6% faulted themselves for not caring enough; 4% thought insufficient media coverage was the main culprit.

On the survey’s economic side:

  • Still a financial wrong track. Twice as many Californians say their family is financially worse off (34%) than better off (15%) versus a year ago. That’s little different from the previous two Golden State Polls.
  • Californians lack financial and job confidence. Only 19% of Californians expect their family’s finances to improve in six months – again, not much of a change from the previous two surveys. Only 45% of respondents believe they can make a lateral job move within in six months; 49% weren’t confident.

For more on the poll in its entirety: http://www.advancingafreesociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Hoover-Golden-State-Poll-May-2014-crosstabs.pdf.

The Hoover Institution Golden State Poll is conducted quarterly by researchers at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, in partnership with the survey research firm YouGov. The May 2014 Hoover investigators are Jeremy Carl; Lanhee Chen, PhD; Tammy Frisby, PhD; Bill Whalen; and Carson Bruno. 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.

Jenny Mayfield, Hoover Institution
Director of Media Relations, Office of Public Affairs
jennymayfield [at] stanford.edu