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New poll: Brown leads Kashkari by 25 points

A new poll finds Gov. Jerry Brown leading Republican challenger Neel Kashkari by a much wider gap than previously reported.

The latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll found that if the election were held today, Brown would beat Kashkari 57 percent to 32 percent – a significantly larger lead than the 16 points that the Field Poll reported last week.

The USC/LAT poll found Brown has the support of 82 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of no-party-preference voters, and 18 percent of Republicans, while 72 percent of Republicans, 25 percent of independents and 10 percent of Democrats support Kashkari.

The poll also found Brown’s job-approval rating at 57 percent, slightly higher than his 54 percent job approval rating in May and a double-digit increase from his 44 percent approval rating in April 2011, soon after he took office.

“Incumbents are defeated when the challenger gives the voters a compelling reason to make a change, and Kashkari simply hasn’t been able to attract enough attention to make that case to voters,” said Dan Schnur, director of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll and executive director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at USC.

“California is an uphill challenge for any Republican running statewide. California is an uphill challenge for any underfunded candidate running statewide,” he said. “But California is a very, very steep hill to climb for an underfunded Republican candidate running for statewide office.”

Much of Brown’s lead might have to do with name recognition. When Californians were asked if they knew the name of the current governor of California, 78 percent of voters correctly identified Brown, with 20 percent unsure. Only 20 percent of voters identified Kashkari as the Republican candidate for governor, with 79 percent unsure of the candidate’s name.

Californians are feeling better about the state’s future, though most still aren’t happy, the poll found – 37 percent now say the state is on the “right track” while 48 percent disagree, but that’s a vast improvement from November 2010, when only 15 percent felt it was on the right track and 77 percent said it was headed in the wrong direction.

The USC/LAT poll also found:

    The Legislature has a 43 percent disapproval rating and 38 percent approval, showing a slight increase from May 2014 when voters reported a 40 percent disapproval rating and a 41 percent approval.
    Proposition 1 — a $7.5 billion bond measure for water infrastructure projects — is backed by 66 percent of voters, a considerably higher level of support than the 52 percent figure reported by the Field Poll last week. But when provided with more information – including that the measure would increase state bond repayment costs but also providing savings to water projects for local governments – support dropped to 57 percent.
    The number of voters who see California’s historic drought as a crisis is on the rise, up 11 percentage points from a May 2014 poll.

The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll of 1,507 voters was conducted Sept. 2 through Sept. 8 and has a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points.

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Field Poll: Obama’s approval rating sinks lower

Californians’ regard for President Obama’s job performance has continued to decline, a new Field Poll finds.

ObamaThe survey, completed last week, found almost as many Californans now disapprove of Obama’s job performance, 43 percent, as approve, 45 percent.

That’s the president’s poorest rating so far from the Golden State, and a far cry from the 62 percent approval rating he had at the start of his second term. And most of the recent decline has been among groups of voters who used to be among his strongest supporters, including a nine-point drop among Democrats, an 11-point drop in Los Angeles County, a 10-point drop among Asian Americans, and seven-point drops in the Bay Area and among strongly liberal voters.

The state generally has a negative view of the nation’s overall direction – 51 percent of voters think it’s seriously off on the wrong track, while 36 percent feel it’s headed in the right direction.

The poll of 1,280 registered voters was conducted Aug. 14 through 28, and has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

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Poll: Support slipping for Brown’s tax measure

Grim news for Gov. Jerry Brown: Support for his proposed November ballot measure to hike California’s sales tax and income taxes on the wealthiest residents is slipping, even after news of a larger-than-expected budget deficit.

The latest University of Southern California Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll, conducted May 17 through 21, shows 59 percent of voters support his ballot measure while 36 percent oppose it. That’s a five-point drop in support from March, when 64 percent supported it and 33 percent opposed it.

The margin narrows further when voters are given arguments for and against Brown’s proposal, along with information – first announced by Brown on May 14 – that California faces a budget deficit of $16 billion, much higher than the initial projection of $9 billion.

In the face of these new numbers, 51 percent of likely voters agreed it’s “more important than ever to support Governor Brown’s proposal to temporarily increase the income tax on high earners. No one wants higher taxes, but we need to make these tough choices to protect public schools, higher education and public safety.”

But in contrast, 41 percent of likely voters agreed “the increased budget deficit shows clearly that state government does not know how to balance a budget or spend taxpayer dollars. It’s more important than ever to oppose Governor Brown’s proposal to temporarily increase the state sales tax because the money will just be wasted again.”

“Governor Brown and his advisors have argued that the prospect of difficult spending cuts would lead to increased support for additional revenues, but the ongoing news coverage of the state’s budget problems may be creating an obstacle for his ballot initiative as well,” said Dan Schnur, who directs the poll as well as USC’s Unruh Institute of Politics. “Voters have indicated a willingness to pay more for public schools and public safety. But they are also getting skeptical about whether their elected representatives can be trusted to spend their money wisely.”

Here’s a video of Schnur and Times reporter Anthony York discussing the poll results:

Brown’s proposed measure for November’s ballot would raise the state’s sales tax by a quarter cent – from 7.25 percent to 7.5 percent – for the next four years. It also would, for the next seven years, create three new high-income tax brackets for those making more than $250,000 per year, the top 3 percent of California taxpayers. Of these new revenues, which Brown estimates at $9 billion but the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s office pegs at $6.8 million, 89 percent would go to K-12 education and the rest to community colleges.

Brown’s job approval rating stands at 49 percent, virtually unchanged from the March poll, but his disapproval rating rose from 35 percent to 39 percent.

Brown’s May budget revision includes spending cuts such as reducing state employees’ workweek by 5 percent, from 40 hours a week to 38. The new poll shows voters support this by a two-to-one margin – 60 percent to 30 percent – so long as public safety workers aren’t affected, in order to save an estimated $400 million. Latino voters were much less likely than voters overall to support the state workweek cut: Only 44 percent favored this, with 45 percent opposed.

But when told this cut would mean state offices are open four days a week, overall support for reduced work hours for public employees declined to only 54 percent, with 39 percent opposed.

The poll’s full sample of 1,002 registered voters had a 3.5-percentage-point margin of error.

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Field Poll: Lukewarm approval for Jerry Brown

Not quite a year into Jerry Brown’s gubernatorial tenure, 47 percent of California voters approve of his job performance while 36 percent disapprove, according to Field Poll results released today.

Brown’s numbers have wilted a bit since September, when 49 percent approved of his job performance and 32 percent disapproved. Unsurprisingly, his support remains strongest among Democrats; in Northern California and the Bay Area; and in households with union members.

Maybe the “top secret” special announcement he’s scheduled to make tomorrow at Universal Studios Hollywood – about something “that will bring hundreds of millions of dollars into California’s economy, help create jobs and support our tourism industry,” his press office says – will boost his numbers.

Or maybe not. Either way, Californians still like him a lot more than the Legislature: Only 22 percent of voters approve of the job lawmakers are doing, while 62 percent disapprove. And 68 percent of voters believe California is moving in the wrong direction.

Voters don’t like the automatic spending cuts provision in this year’s state budget, which could trigger as much as $2 billion in reductions to education and other programs as tax revenues fall short of estimates. By a 65 percent to 26 percent margin, voters across party lines think this was a bad idea, just as they did in September.

These results are based on a survey of 515 registered California voters conducted Nov. 15 through 27, with a 4.5-percentage-point margin of error.

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Field Poll: Congress still down in the dumps

The failure of the “Super Committee” to find any solutions to the nation’s budget and debt problems has cemented Californian’s disdain for Congress, according to a new Field Poll released today.

A whopping 84 percent of the state’s voters now disapprove of how Congress is doing its job, while only 10 percent approve; the rest have no opinion.

More than nine in 10 voters see it as a serious situation that the special bipartisan Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction couldn’t come up with a plan after months of trying. Although a third of voters believe Republicans are more to blame than Democrats for the committee’s failure, half believe both parties share equal blame; only 14 percent believe Democrats were more at fault.

(Those numbers made me think again about something I read last night: This commentary by Paul Barrett, assistant managing editor and senior feature writer at Bloomberg Businessweek.)

And, asked whether they believe the nation has a better chance of solving its problems by electing more Democrats or more Republicans to Congress next year, 40 percent said neither will make much difference, 31 percent said Democrats, and 26 percent said Republicans.

The Field Poll surveyed 1,000 California voters from Nov. 15 through 27; the poll has a 3.8-percentage-point margin of error.

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Poll: Romney leads GOP pack in California

Mitt Romney has a small but solid lead in California among Republican presidential candidates, according to a new poll from the University of Southern California and the Los Angeles Times.

The former Massachusetts governor has support from 27 percent of registered Republicans in the state, followed by Herman Cain with 20 percent, Newt Gingrich with 14 percent and Ron Paul with 6 percent.

“What has remained unchanged for the better part of the year is that Romney maintains support from roughly a quarter of Republican primary voters in California,” Dan Schnur, director of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll and director of USC’s Unruh Institute of Politics, said in a news release. “The only thing that has changed is the identity of his chief opponent.”

But Romney is still trying to consolidate his support among conservatives; 22 percent of GOP voters are still undecided. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, once near the top of the polls, now has only 3 percent support in the Golden State. But among self-identified Tea Party supporters in California, Cain holds three-percentage-point lead over Romney, 29 percent to 26 percent.

Meanwhile, the poll also found 50 percent of California voters approve of President Barack Obama’s job performance, the same as in September; 42 percent disapprove. The president’s numbers are buoyed by 81 percent approval from black voters and 64 percent approval from Latino voters.

“Make no mistake about it, African American and Hispanic voters are President Obama’s political lifeline in California. More likely than not, their overwhelming support for his re-election is probably going to make this state less than competitive in November 2012,” Schnur said.

Asked whether they would vote for Obama or Romney in a hypothetical match-up, 52 percent of California voters picked Obama while 35 percent picked Romney. In other match-ups, Obama led Cain 54 percent to 31 percent and led Perry 55 percent to 31 percent. “Californians are not particularly enthused about the president’s job performance or his re-election campaign, but what makes him a solid bet for winning California in next year’s general election is that most voters don’t see the Republican party as a viable alternative,” Schnur said.

And the poll shows 47 percent of California voters favor the Occupy Wall Street movement while 33 percent oppose it. Asked if they agree or disagree with what the movement is saying about the country, 48 percent said that they agree and 29 percent said that they disagree. Along party lines, 62 percent of registered Democrats agree with the statement and 15 percent disagree, while 21 percent of registered Republicans agreed and 55 percent disagreed.

The poll found 35 percent of Californians consider themselves supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement and 27 percent consider themselves supporters of the Tea Party movement.

“Both represent roughly one-third of their respective parties: the Occupy Wall Street movement for the Democrats and the Tea Party movement for Republicans. So both movements have some ability to have an impact on the direction their party’s nominee takes next fall not only in a presidential campaign, but in a congressional race as well,” Schnur said. “However, neither will determine the party nominee or policy agenda a nominee takes into a general election.”

The poll was conducted Oct. 30 through Nov. 9, surveying 1,500 California registered voters. The poll’s margin of error is 2.52 percentage points.