I wrote a story today about the latest Public Policy Institute of California survey ‘s results on Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget plan, but there was a lot more in the survey that’s worth unpacking.
About half of Californians (48 percent) say that if they were setting national priorities, the focus would be on spending to help the economy recover, while 44 percent say it would be on reducing the federal deficit. Likely voters feel differently: 36 percent would spend to help the economy and 58 percent say reducing the deficit is a higher priority.
But dissatisfaction is widespread: 62 percent of all adults and 64 percent of likely voters think Congress and the Obama administration are not doing enough to help create jobs.
Nearly all Californians say the federal deficit is a very serious (63 percent) or somewhat serious (28 percent) problem. When asked about three major areas of spending in the national budget:
• 75 percent want to protect Medicare, the federal health program for the elderly. Across parties, demographic groups, and regions, adults want to spare the program from significant cuts.
• 67 percent want to protect Medicaid, the federal health program for the poor. Partisan differences emerge on this question, with 77 percent of Democrats, 62 percent of independents wanting to spare the program and half of Republicans saying it is more important to reduce the deficit (51 percent) than protect Medicaid from significant cuts (41 percent).
• 51 percent of adults say it is more important to reduce the deficit than prevent cuts in defense spending, while 40 percent say sparing the Pentagon from big cuts is a priority. Independents (57 percent) and Democrats (54 percent) prefer to reduce the deficit than protect defense spending; Republicans are more divided, with 46 percent favoring deficit reduction and 49 percent favoring prevention of defense cuts.
Even with these federal budget woes, California remains true “blue:” Almost half of Californians – 48 percent – say President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats are doing a better job on efforts to agree on a federal budget, while only a quarter say the Republicans in Congress are doing a better job.
Two months after Republicans gained control of the House and with rancorous budget negotiations still in progress, 56 percent of Californians and 52 percent of likely voters approve of the president’s job performance; 38 percent of all adults and 44 percent of likely voters disapprove.
But dissatisfaction with Congress is widespread and bipartisan. Most Californians (58 percent) and likely voters (69 percent) disapprove of its job performance; 61 percent of Democrats, 66 percent of Republicans, and 68 percent of independents disapprove. As with the state Legislature, however, Californians have more positive views of their own member of the House of Representatives. In the U.S. Senate, 45 percent of all adults and the same proportion of likely voters approve of Barbara Boxer’s performance, while Dianne Feinstein’s numbers stand at 48 percent and 51 percent, respectively.
In other findings, the economy and jobs was named as the most important issue facing the state — as it has since March 2008 — by 53 percent of all adults; far fewer mention the state budget (14 percent) or education and schools (10 percent) as their top priority, and gas prices are now mentioned by 4 percent. Most Californians – 59 percent – say the state is headed in the wrong direction, but that’s more optimistic than one year ago when 76 percent felt that way.
Solid majorities of Californians (61 percent) and likely voters (70 percent) say current legislative term limits are a good thing, although 68 percent of all adults and likely voters favor the general idea of an initiative proposing to restructure term limits that already has qualified for the ballot.
Most Californians – 65 percent – say illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the United States for at least two years should have a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status, while 30 percent say they should be deported. A majority – 68 percent – also favor a law that would let illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children gain legal resident status if they join the military or attend college.
And, questioned before the U.S. and its allies launched air strikes on Libya, most Californians – 64 percent – said the U.S. does not have a responsibility to actively promote democracy around the world.