The latest poll from USC Dornsife and the Los Angeles Times would have you believe California voters give Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature their highest approval ratings in year — despite “soaring taxes, high unemployment, costly illegal immigration, escalating crime rates, substandard roads, record power and gas prices, underwater home values, and dismal schools.”
This is what happens when smart people like to be right and defend bad ideas.
A media conference call with USC Dornsife discussed the poll results.
The 1505 random registered voters queried by telephone say the California Dream is on the upswing, according to the poll results. This is the meme adopted by Brown’s clever public relations team; “California is back!” Brown proclaims.
However, neither Gov. Brown nor the poll address the rising poverty in California, or the dramatic increase in part-time and low wage jobs. An Oct. 2014 report by the Census Bureau showed that while more than 16 percent of Americans, live below the poverty line, the percentage is much higher in California, in which 23.4 percent of the population lives in poverty.
In many parts of the state, people are just happy to have any job, even i it is low-paying.
The USC poll was broken down between White and Latino voters, 888 White Respondents (798 Unweighted) 361 Latino Respondents (509 Unweighted). According to poll experts, If the poll results have been “weighted,” the process is used to account for unequal probabilities of selection, and to adjust slightly the demographics in the sample. A poll could be manipulated unduly by weighting the numbers to produce a desired result.
Question: Generally speaking, do you think that things in California are going in the right direction, or do you feel things have gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track?
“The results showed a significant turnaround for lawmakers, whose approval rating had plummeted to 18% in March 2010,” the Los Angeles Times wrote this week about the poll. “Voter satisfaction has ticked upward in the years since; the new findings mark the first time in years that more Californians approve than disapprove of the Legislature’s performance.”
The voters polled couldn’t possibly be residents in California’s Central Valley or the Northern state where electricity costs are sky high, and gas prices are again on the rise. Despite strict “green energy” mandates in wind and solar power, electricity rates in California are the highest in the nation. And it’s the poor and middle class in inland parts of the state who pay the bulk of these costs – not the wealthy coastal residents who love California’s beautiful climate.
The Central Valley and North State are also home to some of the poorest communities of California.
Lifestyle Beats Financial Security
“There is clearly angst among Californians, but more than that, people are willing to look past financial problems and prioritize everything else in the state offering in terms of lifestyle,” explained Drew Lieberman from polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, in a media conference call. Lieberman said 59 percent respondents said “the state is doing a good job offering a high quality of life.”
“Staying in the California beats going somewhere else – at the center is lifestyle,” Lieberman added.
Another question asked:
Now, thinking forward to the next generation of Californians, or about 25 years, do you think California will be a better place to live for our children’s generation, a worse place to live for our children’s generation, or do you think it will be about the same?
Answer: Total Better: 24 White, 31 Latino
Total Worse: 48 White, 34 Latino
“Brown’s marks were even higher, with 64% of voters approving of his job performance, while 27% disapproved,” the LA Times said. “That’s the highest approval rating for the governor since 2011; voter support of Brown has steadily climbed during his third and, now, fourth gubernatorial term.”
Mike Madrid, a former political director for the California Republican Party expert on Latino voting trends, had a slightly different take. “It’s split between two Californias,” explained Madrid. “The most optimistic were wealthier, whiter, older, and coastal regions. They were also the most pessimistic about what they state would look like in 25 years.”
Also optimistic, according to Madrid, were “younger, poorer, browner, as a function of age.”
“People love the weather, art, and quality of life, but will people be able to afford to pay for that?” Madrid asked.
A California reality
“Coastal greens, progressive Bay Area gays, liberal urban elites, and hip dot-com workers will probably not soon flee the temperate, scenic corridor from Berkeley to San Diego,” said Victor Davis Hansen, an historian at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and resident of the Central Valley, in a National Review column. “For at least a while longer, they will be wealthy and confident enough to afford the living costs that high taxes and myriads of regulations ensure. Yet for the strapped middle classes in the interior of the Los Angeles basin and the Central Valley, there is a perfect storm raging. They can ill afford the soaring taxes, high unemployment, costly illegal immigration, escalating crime rates, substandard roads, record power and gas prices, underwater home values, and dismal schools.”
Not one member of the media on the conference call asked a question about the poll or results — perhaps because the invitation to participate in the conference call was issued only a couple of hours prior.
As I said to a colleague after the media conference call concluded, “my BS meter is sounding alarms right now.”
Here is the link to the poll information, data and methodology .