Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, in conjunction with American Viewpoint, conducted this survey on behalf of the University of Southern California Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles Times. The latest poll shows:

  • Californians Divided on Pending Debt Reduction Talks Between Obama and Congress
  • Enthusiasm for ballot measures motivated state voters
  • California backs a 'fiscal cliff' compromise
  • Californians continue suffering from poor economy
  • Californians Support Change to Energy Policy with New Cap-and-Trade Program
  • Voters divided over easing state's environmental laws
  • Support from minorities and young voters helps push Prop. 30 to victory
  • Californians feel a bit more upbeat about the state's direction

Key Findings

California voters are expressing a reinvigorated confidence in Governor Brown and his plan for the state heading into the 2013-14 election cycle, according to the new University of Southern California Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and Los Angeles Times statewide poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and American Viewpoint immediately after Election Day.  In addition to the passage of Prop 30, voters give Brown credit for beginning to clean up the state’s fiscal mess – yet they remain keenly aware of the continued budget challenges facing California and they know, as does Governor Brown, that much more work needs to be done.

Additional key findings include:

  • Above all, Proposition 30 won because voters wanted to protect California’s public schools from devastating spending cuts.  When asked for the two most important reasons for supporting Proposition 30, 77 percent of voters named protecting schools as one of their top two choices – almost double the next most important reason.
  • President Obama won resoundingly in California with 59 percent of the vote, winning more than 70 percent of Latinos.  President Obama drew a sharp contrast on advocacy and voters here rejected Mitt Romney’s one-sided approach that left regular Californians behind.  The top reason given for voting against Romney was his plan to give all the breaks to the powerful special interests while leaving the middle class behind.
  • In a state where the presidential race was not competitive, voters were intensely focused on the ballot propositions, especially Proposition 30.  When asked which race or ballot issue they were most enthusiastic about voting for, only 39 percent of voters named the presidential race.  Forty-eight percent named one of the ballot propositions, including one-quarter who were most enthusiastic about voting on Proposition 30.
  • With the passage of his signature tax proposal, Governor Brown’s approval increases to 49 percent, tied for highest since he took office.  Though a majority thinks California is on the wrong track, the percent saying the state is moving in the right direction increased 21 points since last year. Additionally, a majority of voters think for the first time in years, through Governor Brown’s spending cuts and budget fixes, we’ve made progress in getting California’s fiscal house in order.
  • However, the economy is still very tough and not improving on a personal level.  In our tracking since earlier this spring, more people say they’ve lost a job, seen reduced wages or hours at work or had to postpone a major purchase.  While there’s a perception that the macro-economy (both statewide and nationally) is gradually improving, there’s no indication that’s true on a personal level for Californians.
  • Nationally, voters want compromise generally, but partisans are hesitant to give up their sacred cows.  By a two-to-one margin, voters want their elected representatives to compromise with the opposing party.  However, Democrats don’t want reductions in Medicare and Social Security benefits and Republicans don’t want any tax increases.


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These findings are based on a random sample survey of 1,520 (1,520 weighted) registered voters in the state of California, conducted from November 7-12, 2012.  Interviews were conducted by telephone using live interviewers.  Voters were randomly selected from a list of registered voters statewide and reached on a landline or cell phone depending on the number they designated on their voter registration.  Ten percent of this sample was reached on a cell phone.  Up to five attempts were made to reach and interview each randomly selected voter.

The study includes an oversample of Latino registered voters, with the total number of Latino voters interviewed at 540 (349 weighted).  All interviews among known Latinos were carried out via telephone by bilingual Latino interviewers, and conducted in the preferred language of the survey respondent, English or Spanish. Overall, 34 percent of interviews among the known Latino sample were conducted in Spanish and 66 percent in English. The technique of using fully bilingual interviewers yields higher response and cooperation rates and is greatly preferred because it does not terminate calls with Spanish-language households and require a callback.

Upon completion of all interviewing, the results were weighted to bring the Latino oversample population into line with the racial and ethnic composition of registered voters in California. The data were weighted to reflect the total population of registered voters throughout the state, balancing on regional and demographic characteristics for gender, age, race, and party registration by taking into account known census estimates, exit poll data, and voter file projections.

The maximum sampling error for the overall sample of 1,520 registered voters is +/- 2.9 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.  Margin of error for subgroups is higher.  The margin of error for the 540 Latino sample respondents is +/- 4.6 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.