Poll Paints Mixed Picture of Californian’s Views

A Quinnipiac University poll of registered California voters was released yesterday.   While the survey was heavily focused on political views with questions about Governor Gavin Newsom running for president, which democrat should replace Senator Dianne Feinstein and how they feel about Vice President Kamala Harris, there were other responses that indicate discontent by voters of all political stripes regarding how state government is serving them.  Pollsters report a sample size of around 1,000 registered voters telephoned randomly, with respondents weighted to reflect the political and human demographics of the state.   Of great significance is what questions are asked, and whether there was built-in bias.  When asked if they were satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in California, a whopping 57% were somewhat or very dissatisfied, including 32% of democrats and 63% of independents.  64% of respondents are opposed to giving prison inmates the right to vote, including almost half of democrats and 70% of independents.  A democrat-supported bill is currently moving through the California Legislature would allow inmate voting.

When asked what issues were the most urgent, the issues listed in the poll are of importance.  The survey listed gun violence, climate change, abortion, inflation, unemployment, homelessness, immigration, health care, racial inequality, schools, affordable housing, taxes and crime.  Homelessness was the top choice, with 22%.  This was followed by affordable housing (17%) and inflation (10%).  Almost none of the respondents were concerned about abortion, health care, racial inequality, and only 8% were concerned about climate change.  These are the top political issues for democrats including the Governor, Legislature and city leaders.  Crime came in at 8% with gun violence getting 5%.

45% of respondents felt that they cannot afford to live in California, including over a third of democrats and 54% of independents.  43% indicated that if they had the money, they would move out of the state.  This included a quarter of democrats and 47% of independents.

The poll took a deeper dive on some of the issues they listed as possible concerns.  When respondents were asked how serious they felt homelessness was, 98% said serious or very serious.  When asked if the state was doing enough to address the problem 69% said not enough.  Last year the state set aside $7.2 billion to deal with homelessness, not counting the millions that cities and counties spent.  Recent surveys indicate that California’s homeless population increased last year.  The poll asked if respondents felt that immigration was good or bad for the country.  67% said good.  This question did not distinguish legal immigration from illegal immigration.  The next question, on whether the state was doing enough to protect “undocumented” immigrants, received 39% responding that the state was  doing too much.  40% of independents felt that way.   When  asked if California has effective border security, 53% said no, including a quarter of democrats and 63% of independents.  These responses suggest that had the poll had asked if illegal immigration was good for the country the response may well have been negative.

Other questions raise similar concerns.  When asked if voters would support or oppose stricter gun laws, 58% said yes.  41% of independents said no.  How many of the respondents understand that California has the strictest gun laws in the country?

When asked if they would support or oppose a ban on assault weapons, 61% said yes.  California  already has a ban on fully automatic weapons, which is what most people would consider to be an assault weapon.  If the question had distinguished between fully-automatic military-style weapons from the average pistol, which is semi-automatic, the answers might have been different.

The question of whether respondents would support limits on where people could carry guns (66% said yes) ignored that there are already many limits on where guns are allowed.  Places such as schools and theaters are attractive to crazies who want to kill lots of people for the very reason that law-abiding people are not allowed to carry guns in these places.  When asked whether or not people under 21-years-old should be allowed to carry a concealed weapon, 77% responded no.  It is already illegal to carry a concealed weapon in California if you’re under 21.

When asked if gun violence is a crisis in California 55% of democrats replied yes, but only 42% overall thought so.  Had the respondents been asked if violent crime was a crisis, I suspect that the numbers would have been higher.  “Gun violence,” by the way, is a term used by anti-gun democrats to reinforce their effort to eliminate the Second Amendment.  Apparently more republicans and independents were wise to this with majorities responding that it is a problem but not a crisis.

Public opinion polling is notoriously inexact, especially these days when most people won’t talk to pollsters.  Asking questions which lead people to a particular response or paint an incomplete picture contribute to inaccuracy.

Quinnipiac claims to be the “gold standard” of polling.  That said, even with its flaws, their recent poll shows that most Californians don’t feel very good about how the state is being governed.   I’d be surprised if the state’s leaders see it that way.