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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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Poll: Neel Kashkari and Tim Donnelly in dead heat

Tim Donnelly and Neel Kashkari, the two Republicans vying to make it into the top two with incumbent Democrat Jerry Brown in Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary, are in a statistical dead heat, a new poll finds.

Among likely primary voters, Brown leads with 50 percent while 18 percent favor Kashkari and 13 percent favor Donnelly – the first time any major public poll has showed Kashkari, a former Treasury Department official, leading Donnelly, a more conservative Assemblyman. But the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, meaning the Republicans basically are neck-and-neck.

Among Republican likely voters, 32 percent said they would vote for Kashkari in Tuesday’s primary election, 21 percent said they would vote for Donnelly and 17 percent said they would vote for Brown, while 23 percent of Republican likely voters remain undecided.

It certainly seems Kashkari’s May ad blitz – funded in large part by $2 million from his own pocket – had an effect, as he had been polling far behind Donnelly before that.

Either way, November isn’t looking like much of a contest. If the general election were held today, Brown would defeat Donnelly 54-26 and Kashkari 55-27, according to the poll conducted May 21-28.

“Establishment Republicans beat Tea Party candidates in Georgia, Kentucky, Idaho and Oregon last week. If the trend continues in California — and there’s growing evidence it might — we may be witnessing a national trend towards a more moderate national Republican Party. If The Tea Party candidate wins in California, the internal party struggles will continue and likely exacerbate,” said Mike Madrid, co-director of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll, USC Unruh Institute Fellow and Republican strategist.

“With the Republican race in a statistical dead heat and with unprecedented levels of low voter turnout, a relatively small number of voters will be determining the ideological direction of the Republican party in California — and perhaps the image of the GOP nationally.”

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Gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly in Dublin

Gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly is meeting with fellow Republicans in the East Bay on Wednesday night, and let’s all hope he’s not packing heat.

Tim DonnellyThe reception for Donnelly – co-hosted by the Tri-Valley Republican Women Federated, the Frederick Douglas Foundation of California, the New Republicans, and the East Bay Tea Party – from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Coco Cabana in Dublin coincides with a Los Angeles Times story that says the handgun Donnelly tried to take through airport security in 2012 was not registered to him.

“He will decline to comment on this,” Donnelly campaign manager Jennifer Kerns said Wednesday afternoon. “That information in that story is two years old and was written about when that incident first happened. Old news…”

The Assemblyman from Twin Peaks had a loaded .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun in his carry-on bag as he tried to board a plane Jan. 4, 2012 at the Ontario airport. He pleaded no contest later that year to misdemeanor charges of carrying a loaded firearm in public without a concealed weapons permit and possessing a gun in an airport; he paid a $2,125 fine and is still on his three years of probation.

The Times nailed Donnelly earlier this month for apparently violating that probation by firing borrowed handguns at a Santa Cruz shooting range while on the campaign trail. San Bernardino District Attorney Michael Ramos said last week he won’t charge Donnelly with a probation violation.

I’d ask Donnelly about the unregistered handgun tonight, but it’s my birthday and my wife is taking me out to dinner – no work for me this evening! Instead, you can go: The event is free and requires no RSVP.

“Come on out and meet Tim Donnelly in a relaxed, personal setting after work. He wants the chance to talk with his fellow conservative Republicans in our 16th (Assembly) district, and to hear about what’s important to you,” the invitation says. “This is your chance to share your priorities with him, and to learn how he intends to help us preserve our cherished way of life here in the Tri-Valley, stop the spending spree in Sacramento, lower our taxes, protect our guns and our borders, and restore and defend our God-given liberty!”

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Poll: Gov. Jerry Brown’s approval rating rises

Gov. Jerry Brown has a higher approval rating than at any time since he took office in 2011, according to a new University of Southern California/Los Angeles Times poll.

The poll found 55 percent of registered voters approve of the job Brown is doing as governor; that’s up from 49 percent in September 2012 and 50 percent in June of this year. This latest poll shows 33 percent disapprove.

The poll of 1,503 registered voters was conducted from Oct. 30 to Nov. 5 by Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Republican polling firm American Viewpoint; the full sample has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

Unsurprisingly, Democrats like Brown best – 78 percent approval to 11 percent disapproval – but independents like him solidly as well, 68 percent to 22 percent. Republicans disapprove heavily: 68 percent, while only 22 percent approve.

Brown has tremendous support among minority voters – 67 percent to 9 percent among black voters, 65 percent to 17 percent among Asian-American voters, and 61 percent to 20 percent among Latino voters – while the white vote is somewhat more split, 51 percent approval to 41 percent disapproval.

Even so, 49 percent of all voters surveyed said California is pretty seriously on the wrong track, while 37 percent said things in the state are going in the right direction. Unhappiness with the state’s direction is highest among Republicans (79 percent), while 59 percent of nonpartisan voters say it’s on the wrong track and only 27 percent of Democrats feel that way.

“It’s impressive that Brown’s approval has increased at a time when perception of politicians are generally at historic lows,” said Drew Lieberman, vice president of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. “The government shutdown tends to reflect on all politicians at all levels, but I think Governor Brown has built some insulation from that. This data shows Brown with a strong foundation and a solid core, but also with some work left to do.”

Indeed, the poll shows that even though Brown’s favorability continues to rise, it’s too early for voters to pronounce his re-election chances a slam dunk. Only 32 percent said they would pick him again for the job, while 37 percent said they would elect someone else.

Lots more, after the jump…
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USC/LAT Poll: Californians support gun control

California voters support a wide range of gun-control measures and say it’s more important to protect people from gun violence than to protect Second Amendment rights, according to a new statewide poll.

When asked whether they felt it is more important to protect people from gun violence than protect American’s right to own guns, a majority of California voters — 51 percent — said that they felt it is more important to protect people from gun violence; 46 percent agreed “strongly” with that statement. In comparison, 37 percent of voters said it’s more important to protect the right to own guns, with 32 percent agreeing “strongly.”

The University of Southern California Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll of 1,501 registered voters, conducted March 11-17 by two polling firms – one Democratic, one Republican – has a 2.9-point margin of error.

The poll found about a quarter of Californians own a firearm, compared to about 34 percent of American households as estimated by a recent General Social Survey.

“Politics is a natural outgrowth of culture,” poll director Dan Schnur, a former Republican strategist who directs USC’s Unruh Institute of Politics, said in a news release. “And because the percentage of Californians who own guns is so much lower than the ownership rates of guns in other parts of the country, it shouldn’t surprise us that Californian’s attitudes toward gun control are much stronger than places where people are more likely to own or maintain a firearm.”

The gap between those emphasizing gun-violence reduction and protection of gun rights in this poll isn’t as large as that reported by the Field Poll last month; that earlier poll found 61 percent preferred imposing greater controls while 34 percent preferred protecting gun rights.

Asked about potential ways to curb gun violence, 92 percent of California voters told the USC/Times poll that they support background checks for all gun sales, which the state already requires; only 6 percent were opposed.

On other proposed gun-control measures:

    89 percent favor updating the national database used for background checks by improving the reporting of mental health records, while 8 percent oppose;
    87 percent favor increasing penalties for those who commit crimes with guns, while 9 percent oppose;
    85 percent favor increasing penalties for those who illegally buy, while 12 percent oppose;
    79 percent favor requiring ammunition buyers to provide a thumbprint and ID for background checks, while 19 percent oppose; and
    71 percent favor requiring all gun owners to be registered, licensed and insured, while 26 percent oppose.

Lots more, after the jump…
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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.