Hoover's Golden State Poll: Voters Still Lacking in Economic Confidence; On Whether to Frack: Yes, No... and Maybe

Thursday, September 26, 2013


The statistics tell us that California is in the midst of an economic recovery – albeit, uneven growth that mirrors what’s happening at the national level.

In its third quarterly report of 2013, released earlier this month, the UCLA Anderson Forecast predicts that the Golden State's payroll job growth will rise by 1.7% in 2013, 1.9% in 2014 and 2.2% in 2015. The state’s unemployment rate will average 8.9% this year, then drop to 7.9% in 2014 and 6.9% by 2015 (U.S. unemployment fell to 7.3% in August).

The question is: how do these numbers translate with Californians who’ve had to endure the state’s worst recession in over 75 years? Are they feeling better, worse, or just hanging in there?

Between August 27 and September 5, Hoover’s Golden State Poll (a joint collaboration of the Hoover Institution and the research firm YouGov) surveyed 1,000 Californians on their confidence in California’s recovery – their job security and pocketbook choices (last October, a Hoover/YouGov survey sampled Californians’ attitudes toward state government and policy choices in Sacramento).

Among the findings:

Twice as many Californians reported being worse-off financially (33%) than better off (17%) over the last yearThat’s in line with what the Hoover Golden State Poll found last fall, when 34% of Californians said they were worse off financially than a year ago and 19% said they were better off.

Among survey respondents who are currently employed, more than half (55%) said they weren’t confident in their ability to find another job in California within 6 months that pays as much as they are making now.

We also took the public’s pulse on several controversial topics with regard to energy and the environment: climate change, fracking (Gov. Brown having just given the go-ahead to do so in California by signing SB 4 last Friday) and gasoline prices.

Among the findings:

When asked to consider both the economic benefits and the potential environmental harms of fracking, Californians were of three distinct minds: 38% positive, 40% negative and 22% not yet sure.

42% of surveyed Californians would like state revenues generated by AB 32 to be refunded to taxpayers. That’s more than six times the percentage that chose high-speed rail (7%), and roughly twice the percentage that would like to see the money directed to energy efficiency/renewable energy tech (18%) or state general expenditures such as education or health care (18%).

For a more detailed explanation of the survey’s results, click here for this Defining Ideas analysis by Hoover research fellow Carson Bruno, who studies California public policy, and Jeremy Carl, a research fellow and a member of Hoover’s Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy.

As for the survey itself, click here (PDF) if you want to examine the data.