Brown stands strong among California voters; Electorate weighs in on corruption, drought


California’s primary election is in the books and the focus now shifts to the general election in November. The most recent University of Southern California Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and Los Angeles Times statewide poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (researchers were Drew Lieberman and Scott Tiell) and American Viewpoint, addresses Governor Brown’s standing and several key issues facing the state.  

Key findings from this new poll include:

Governor Brown’s standing remains at peak levels and he is well-positioned for reelection. Brown’s approval rating is in the mid-50s for the second straight poll after months hovering around 50 percent.  Additionally, while only 37 percent of California voters believe the state is headed in the right direction, compared to 46 percent who believe the state is headed on the wrong track, that “wrong track” number is the lowest ever in our tracking of this question, which began in 2009.  And Brown’s approval on “the economy and jobs” has increased by 5 points in recent months.

The result is a general election matchup in which Brown leads Neel Kashkari 53 to 35 percent among likely voters, including 83 percent of likely registered Democrats and 69 percent of likely no-party-preference voters.  In comparison to Brown’s 2010 performance against Meg Whitman among key groups using exit polls, Brown is performing better among whites, women and seniors.

Voters are concerned about corruption, but stop short of issuing a vote of no confidence in state government.  Recent scandals involving several state legislators have helped bring corruption to the forefront -- fully 84 percent of voters are very or somewhat concerned about corruption in the state legislature.  However, more than two-thirds (68 percent) believe the problem is just “a few bad apples,” not the entire system, and they give the state legislature its highest approval in five years.

Despite general concerns about drought, Californians are not yet ready to spend taxpayer funds to improve water supplies and systems. Voters have a 30,000-foot concern about drought – 89 percent say the drought is a crisis or a major problem – but just 16 percent say the drought has had a major impact on their daily lives.  This perceived “distance” between the problem and people’s everyday lives leads voters to support long-term voluntary measures to address the problem, but not yet costly, prescriptive solutions like increasing water rates, imposing mandatory reductions in water use, or improving storage and delivery systems.

The frequency questionnaire and crosstabs for this survey, as well as links to the stories by the Los Angeles Times and USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, are available at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner.