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The Latest Hoover Golden State Poll: A Dry State, A Drought of Confidence

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

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Last fall, the inaugural Hoover Golden State Poll asked this simple question: in a California slowly but steadily digging out of its worst economic recession since the Great Depression, are the residents of Golden State feeling any different about their fortunes?

The results suggested a disconnect between favorable media reports of a state in recovery and an electorate in something of a funk. Twice as many Californians reported being worse-off financially that better off over the last year. More than half said they weren’t confident in their ability to find another job in California within six months that pays as well as they’re currently making.

The second Hoover Golden State Poll – a sampling of 1,000 Californians conducted last month – was released earlier this morning. Its results point to a disturbing trend: in America’s nation-state, its residents have little exuberance for its political leadership – both California’s governor and the State Legislature. Moreover, there’s an inverse relationship between Californians’ top priorities and many of the ideas championed by lawmakers in Sacramento.

Among the survey’s economic findings:

  • 1 in 5 Californians see their family’s finances improving in the next six months, while 70% do not
  • 2 out of 3 Californians predicted their state tax rates will increase this year, while 1% predicted a decrease
  • Only 1 in 7 Californians are “very confident” they can afford both higher taxes and other pocketbooks expenses

On the policy front:

  • Asked to list their top priorities, Californians gave top billing to strengthening the economy, improving the job situation and balancing the state’s budget
  • Respondents’ bottom-three priorities: dealing with global warming, strengthening gun laws, continuing the state’s high-speed rail

Finally, on the political front:

  • Gov. Jerry Brown received a 33% job approval rating (37% disapproved, 30% had no opinion)
  • 1 in 4 Californians believe Brown deserves reelection, should he seek it this fall, while 44% would like to see a new governor
  • California’s State Legislature received a 21% job approval rating (49% disapproved, 31% had no opinion)
  • Despite media reports depicting harmony under the State Capitol Dome, only 1 in 4 Californians see their state’s government as an export-worthy model

Carson Bruno, a Hoover research fellow and member of the Golden State Poll research team, has written this analysis of the survey for Hoover’s online journal, Defining Ideas.

Lanhee Chen, also a Hoover research fellow and Golden State Poll researcher, has penned this Bloomberg column detailing how Californians’ lack of economic enthusiasm could spell political trouble for Gov. Brown.

If you want to examine the survey in its entirety, please click here (to see September's inaugural survey click here).

We hope it offers some insight into the ongoing mystery that is California.