On behalf of theUniversity of Southern California Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciencesand theLos Angeles Times, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, in conjunction with American Viewpoint, conducted a new survey among 1,500 registered California voters. The latest survey shows: 

  • Voters see improvement in California economy
  • Voters choose quality over affordability at Calif. public universities
  • Survey shows growing support for online education in California
  • Voters split on transgender proposal
  • Californians oppose more fracking — but potential economic benefits open the door for support
  • Californians uneasy about fracking's safety, lack of oversight
  • Californians would go further than Gov. Brown to cut prison crowding
  • Californians favor reducing sentences for nonviolent offenders
  • Poll shows Californians favor legalizing same-sex marriage
  • Support for legalizing same-sex marriage in California continues to grow

Key Findings

Frequency Questionnaire


With the era of continual California budget crises on hiatus for the moment, the state faces a new set of challenges, from higher education and prison reform to fracking and same sex same marriage. This is the issue terrain covered in 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.

The poll shows that voters have real concerns about the affordability of higher education and the state's prison system, but those cost worries don't yet outweigh their commitment to high quality education and public safety. Other key findings from this poll include:

  • Voters continue to see gradual improvement in California's economy, but there is still a long way to go. Nearly half (49 percent) of California voters think the state economy is improving, up over 25 points from just two years ago. However, while voters are more optimistic, the economy remains tough and they are far from satisfied, as only 38 percent of Californians say the state is going in the right direction, while 50 percent say it's off on the wrong track.
  • Governor Brown's approval rating cracks 50 percent; driven by broad support from almost all major groups. Brown's pragmatic approach to governing is not leaving anyone behind, and he enjoys high support among both whites (51 percent approve, 38 percent disapprove) and Latinos (46 percent approve, 30 percent disapprove).
  • More believe California's public universities are getting worse and becoming increasingly unaffordable, but concerns over cost have not shifted to anger. Voters feel the high costs of a college education, but the intensity toward the level of unaffordability remains relatively low and voters aren't willing to compromise the quality of a college education in California. As a result, Governor Brown's proposals to tie higher education funding to tuition freezes and higher graduation rates leave voters split once messages from both sides are heard.
  • While voters support reducing sentences for people who commit low-level, nonviolent crimes in order to reduce the state's prison population and reduce costs, they are not willing to jeopardize public safety and draw a line on releasing dangerous criminals back on the street. About two-thirds support such parole measures for low-level, nonviolent offenders to reduce overcrowding and costs. In addition, nearly three-quarters (74 percent) support Governor Brown's plan to keep more of those low-level offenders in county jails. However, a plurality (47 percent) opposes reducing the prison population further if it means more crime.
  • Voters generally oppose the increased use of fracking in their state, but the potential economic benefits open a door. Voters are wary of fracking's potential adverse health and environmental effects –58 percent support a moratorium on fracking until an independent environmental commission can study its effects. However, when framed around reducing gas and energy prices, voters are open to fracking, as long as it's done safely—a plurality (41 percent) support keeping fracking legal with some additional state regulations to supplement existing federal regulations, while only 19 percent support continuing to allow fracking with no additional regulations.
  • Support for legalizing same-sex marriage continues to grow in California, following the national trend. Fifty-eight percent of Californians now support same-sex marriage, up 6 points (and 9 points in intense support) in just three years. The shift on this issue is driven not just by young voters or the Bay Area, but also by some surprising groups, including seniors, who now are split on the issue after an 11-point increase in support over the past three years.


June 5, 2013

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These findings are based on a random sample survey of 1,500 (1,500 weighted) registered voters in the state of California, conducted from May 27th to June 2nd, 2013. Interviews were conducted by telephone using live interviewers from Interviewing Services of America. 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. Twenty 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 479 (345 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, 43 percent of interviews among the known Latino sample were conducted in Spanish and 57 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 according to known census estimates and voter file projections.

The maximum sampling error for the overall sample of 1,500 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 479 Latino sample respondents is +/- 4.9 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

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