About half of Californians (51% adults, 53% likely voters) approve of Governor Jerry Brown’s job performance. The state legislature has a job approval rating of 44 percent among adults and 38 percent among likely voters. Jobs/economy (27% adults, 29% likely voters) edges out water/ drought (20% adults, 23% likely voters) as the most important issue facing Californians today.
As seasonal rainfall has increased and Californians have slowed their conservation efforts, residents are also less likely today (57% adults) to say the supply of water as a big problem in their part of the state than they were in September 2015, when a record-high 70 percent held this view. Half (49% adults) say that the people in their part of California are not doing enough to respond to the drought, while 38 percent say people are doing the right amount.
High-speed rail: Eight years after state voters passed the $10 billion bond to build high-speed rail with 53 percent support, 52 percent of adults and 44 percent of likely voters continue to favor building it. When those who are opposed are asked how they would feel if it cost less, overall support increases to 66 percent among adults and 59 percent among likely voters. How important is high-speed rail to the future quality of life and economic vitality of California? A third of adults (34%) and a quarter of likely voters (26%) say it is very important.
Approval Ratings of State Elected Officials
Question asked: “Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way that Jerry Brown is handling his job as governor of California?”
Fifty-one percent of adults and 53 percent of likely voters approve of the way Jerry Brown is handling his job as California’s governor. The governor’s approval rating was slightly higher in January (58% adults, 60% likely voters) and it was similar last March (55% adults, 56% likely voters). Today, the governor’s approval rating is much higher among Democrats (69%) than among independents (39%) and Republicans (27%). Approval is higher in the San Francisco Bay Area (58%) than in other regions. Latinos (62%) are more likely than whites (48%), blacks (47%), and Asians (40%) to approve of the governor.
Question Asked: “Thinking about the state as a whole, what do you think is the most important issue facing people in California today?”
Californians are most likely to name jobs and the economy (27%) and water and the drought (20%) as the most important issues facing people in California today; fewer than one in 10 name any other issue. Jobs and the economy (24%) and water and the drought (23%) also topped the issues list in March 2015. Water and the drought (29%) and jobs and the economy (34%) are both named more often today in the Central Valley than in other regions, although the SF Bay Area (21%) ranked the highest among other state regions. Orange County/San Diego (16%) was lowest. The top two issues are similar among likely voters and all adults.
State Water Supply
Question Asked: “Would you say that the supply of water is a big problem, somewhat of a problem, or not much of a problem in your part of California?”
Today, 57 percent of Californians say that the supply of water is a big problem in their part of California—down from a record high of 70 percent in September 2015, when we last asked this question. This comes as much of California has seen increased seasonal rainfall and the slowing of statewide conservation efforts. Residents in the Central Valley (68%) are the most likely to see their regional water supply as a big problem, with Orange County/San Diego (60%) in second place, and while residents in the San Francisco Bay Area (53%) are the least likely. The share holding this view increases with age and is highest among whites (66%) and lowest among Asians (47%) across racial/ethnic groups.
Question Asked: “Thinking ahead, how important is the high-speed rail system for the future quality of life and economic vitality of California?”
In November 2008 California voters passed Proposition 1A, the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century, with 53 percent support. How do Californians view this project today? Thirty-four percent of California adults and 26 percent of likely voters view the high-speed rail system as very important for the future of California. The perception that the rail system is very important has ranged from a high of 36 percent in March 2013 to a low of 28 percent last March. Residents in the San Francisco Bay Area (45%) are the most likely to call the high-speed rail system very important, while about a third in all other regions hold this view. Democrats (37%) are more than twice as likely as Republicans (15%) to hold this view. Latinos (45%) are the most likely to call the system very important, followed by Asians (40%), blacks (33%), and whites (25%).
Question Asked: “Next, as you may know, California voters passed a $10 billion state bond in 2008 for planning and construction of a high-speed rail system from Southern California to the Central Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area. The estimated costs associated with the high-speed rail system are about $68 billion over the next 20 years. Do you favor or oppose building a high-speed rail system in California?”
Fifty-two percent of Californians favor building the high-speed rail system; shares have been similar since we first asked this question in March 2012. Today, 44 percent of likely voters favor the project. Residents in the San Francisco Bay Area (63%) are the most likely to favor the project and have the lowest level of opposition (29%), while residents elsewhere are more divided, with supporters (Range: 47%–51%) closely outnumbering opponents (Range: 45%–51%). There is a wide partisan divide, with six in 10 Democrats and three in 10 Republicans in favor. Support is higher among Asians (66%) and Latinos (58%) than among whites (44%) and blacks (42%), and declines sharply with increasing age. When those who oppose the high- speed rail system are asked how they would feel if it cost less, overall support increases to 66 percent among all adults and 59 percent among likely voters.
Findings in this report are based on a survey of 1,710 California adult residents, including 852 interviewed on landline telephones and 858 interviewed on cell phones. Interviews took an average of 20 minutes to complete. Interviewing took place on weekend days and weekday nights from March 6–15, 2016. Full report can be viewed here.