Two CA polls in one day offer encouragement to Newsom, the new Legislature, and Kamala Harris for president

Updated: 9 p.m. Feb. 6, 2019

A statewide poll released tonight found that Californians are generally positive about Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and the new California Legislature, but still down on President Donald Trump, whom most blame for the federal government shutdown. As in previous polls, they favor keeping the state’s property tax limits for homeowners—but maybe not for businesses.

The poll, from the Public Policy Institute of California, indicated that 70 percent of all California adults and 64 percent of likely voters supported Newsom’s proposed budget after being read a summary of it, with robust majorities backing his push to spend $1.8 billion expanding early childhood and pre-kindergarten programs, and an extra $832 million on public colleges and universities.

PPIC’s poll was made public after the morning release of a Quinnipiac University Poll of registered California voters. It found that the state’s junior U.S. senator, Kamala Harris, has an early home state advantage among Democrats in her run for the presidency—just as long as more high-profile Democrats don’t jump into the race. The poll reported that 58 percent of Democratic-inclined California voters said they would feel “excited” if she became the Democratic nominee. Statewide, voters of all political persuasions were split over whether she would make a good commander-in-chief, with 40 percent agreeing and 38 percent disagreeing.

The excitement factor was higher for Harris than any other declared or hypothetical candidate, save one. Perhaps unsurprisingly given his high name ID, 60 percent of Democratic leaning California voters reported being enthusiastic about the prospect of former Vice President Joe Biden as the party’s presidential nominee. He has not yet said whether he will run.

For those who think it’s far too early for anyone to be earnestly crunching the numbers on 2020, get used to it. California legislators decided to move up the state’s place on the primary calendar up by three months, making it newly relevant for presidential aspirants and the pollsters and consultants who care about them. That all should provide ample fodder for California journalists—but apologies if you were hoping to get through dinner interrupted over the next 13 months.

The Quinnipiac poll also found Californians starkly divided on a wide range of issues. Among registered voters surveyed, a majority of only Democrats supported a single-payer health care system and expanding health insurance to undocumented immigrants. Meanwhile a majority of only Republicans approved of President Trump’s job performance, support a border wall, and oppose strict gun control and marijuana legalization. A majority of those Republicans, unlike Democrats and independents, also said the California economy is not doing well—perhaps a reflection of the fact that the GOP has failed to win any statewide office and Democrats hold a robust supermajority of the Legislature.

The PPIC poll asked Californians how they feel about the new state government, now that Gov. Jerry Brown has finally left state politics. Adults surveyed approved of Gov. Newsom 44 percent to 23 percent, a more than 10 point margin. A third of respondents were undecided. A similar breakdown of Californians support the new Legislature.

In contrast (and coming as surprise to virtually no one), the survey found that the vast majority of Californians disapprove of President Trump, with 64 percent (including 52 percent of political independents) blaming him for the recent 35-day shutdown of the federal government.

These approval and disapproval numbers generally mirror the findings of the Quinnipiac poll.

The Public Policy Institute also found that a broad swath (61 percent) of Californians believe that Proposition 13, the 1978 constitutional amendment that capped the rate at which property taxes can increase, has been “mostly a good thing” for the state. But 47 percent said they supported stripping that benefit from commercial property owners, compared to 43 percent who opposed it—marking some growth in support for the idea compared to earlier polls.

A ballot measure to tax commercial property based on its market value (often referred to as the “split roll” initiative) will be on the 2020 ballot.

Provided with a list of issues and asked to identify the most important issue for the governor and Legislature to work on in the coming year, 15 percent of respondents said immigration/illegal immigration (the top choice), followed by education/schools/teachers with 11 percent and jobs/economy with 10 percent.

Latest in Blogs

Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris before the start of the Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Thursday, June 27, 2019, in Miami.


Frontrunner no more: California poll puts Harris on top and Biden (way) down

Animal rights advocate Deborah Classen holds a poster featuring rabbits to support a bill that would ban fur from wild animals., at a Capitol hearing July 9, 2019.


Fur flies as California moves closer to a statewide ban


Introducing a new look for CalMatters

Students are joining teachers in the rain today on the picket line at Marshall High School in Los Angeles, as an LAUSD teachers strike began. Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News


If L.A. won’t raise taxes for schools, will Californians vote to overhaul a Proposition 13?

Gov. Gavin Newsom surrounded by legislators at the 2019 State of the State address in the Capitol. Photo by Andrew Nixon, Capital Public Radio


Newsom’s biggest budget win? Lawmakers didn’t break his heart


A million independent voters risk being irrelevant in California’s presidential primary