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9th Annual CalChamber People's Voice Explores CA Voter Attitudes


Photo by Mara Lara (mattlaraphotography.com)


Bold Decision founding partner Adam Rosenblatt recently presented the key findings of the 9th Annual CalChamber "People's Voice" Survey of California Voters at the 2023 California Chamber of Commerce Public Affairs Conference.


Bold Decision Poll Shows Voter Attitudes About Living in California

California voters have grown more anxious and pessimistic about living in California than a year ago, according to findings from the California Chamber of Commerce Poll, The People’s Voice, 2023.


A strong majority (57%) say California is heading down the wrong track, flipping their views from a year ago, where a majority said the state was headed in the right direction.


Key Factors

Voters peg inflation and the economy as key factors in worsening attitudes. Asked if rising prices caused them or their families to adjust spending habits, 83% said they had, nearly half (47%) by “a lot.”

More than two of three voters reported that their households’ finances and current economic situation is worse than a year ago — nearly one-quarter said “much worse.”

Looking ahead, voters are pessimistic: 58% say the economy will be worse off a year from now. When asked this same question a year ago, a majority believed the economy would be better off. From a personal perspective, a slight majority (51%) of voters believe it “unlikely” that their own economic situation will “improve over the next year.”


Voter Beliefs about Their Future in California

Over a longer time frame, a plurality (39%) of voters think that five years in the future, California will be a worse place to live compared to today, 12 percentage points higher than those who believed California would be a better place.

Voter pessimism extends to their views on the American Dream, which they have seen steadily slipping away over the years. Notably, a strong majority believe that American Dream “once held true but does not anymore.

By a 63% to 26% margin, voters believe that the American Dream “once held true but does not anymore” compared with “still holds true.”

Five years ago, a plurality of California voters (49%) believed the American dream “still holds true,” versus 44% who responded that “it once held true, but does not anymore.

Looking further afield, by a 3 to 1 margin, voters believe it is “easier to achieve the American Dream in a different state than in California.”                        

Family Futures

More than 3 of 5 (62%) of Californians now say their “family would have a better future if we left California.” Just two years ago, less than half of voters (48%) agreed with that sentiment. Two-thirds of parents agree that “my children will have a better future if they left California.”

Sixty-five percent of voters reported personally knowing someone who moved out of California because of either job loss or cost of living concerns.

Economic uncertainty contributes mightily to these concerns. Nine out of 10 voters agree that “earning enough income to enjoy a middle-class lifestyle is becoming almost impossible in my part of California.”

Growing Exodus

California has suffered a growing exodus of residents over the past decade, with the state’s population actually declining for the past three years.

Asked if in recent years they had “given any thought to moving out of California,” 57% had given at least some consideration, while 26% reported that they’d given “serious consideration” to leaving the state. Not surprisingly, the reasons given were related to the bottom line: 61% gave “high cost of living” and 10% cited “better opportunities for home ownership” as reasons for leaving.

Some officials and pundits have speculated that California’s 'de-growth' may be a blessing in disguise, given the housing shortage and overall affordability. Voters strongly disagree. By a nearly 3 to 1 margin, voters believe that people and businesses leaving the state has a very (27%) or somewhat (46%) negative impact on California.


Affordability, Crime Among Top Voter Concerns

Voters believe their families would have a better future if they left California.

The problem is profound voter dissatisfaction, but what is to be done about it?

For starters, voters agree (65%) that “California has fostered an unfriendly business climate that discourages new high-quality jobs and opportunities.” They overwhelmingly agree (89%) that “California needs to do more to attract and retain businesses in the state.”

As to whether state leaders are on the job, voters have a dim view. A majority (54%) say Sacramento policies have “worsened” the condition of the state,” while only 36% believe those policies have “improved the condition of the state.”

Issues to Address

When asked about issues they wish elected officials were addressing, unsurprisingly voters cite making the state “more affordable for working Californians,” “addressing the high cost of electricity,” “reducing taxes,” and “expanding the fresh water supply” as high priority issues, but ones they have not heard about from elected officials. Voters agree that Sacramento is addressing other high priority issues, such as homelessness, high housing costs, and wildfires.

Crime is an issue that voters care deeply about, and believe state officials are addressing somewhat, but see far more that needs to be done.

A majority of voters say crime has increased in their area, a quarter report by “a lot.” When it comes to the retail experience, 44% of voters say they have “felt the need to change when or where they shop” in the past year.

Voters’ top criminal justice priorities are (1) reducing the fentanyl threat and punishing smugglers and dealers, (2) keeping violent offenders in prison for their entire sentence, and (3) replacing prosecutors who refuse to enforce the law.


Views on Property Tax, Health Care, Labor Law                      

A majority of voters polled say Sacramento policies have “worsened” the condition of the state. Voters rate economic and cost-of-living issues at the top of their concerns, and wish elected officials spent more time addressing those issues.

Property Tax Reforms

The Proposition 13 property tax reforms remain strongly popular among voters, with 83% reporting a favorable view of the measure, and 44% “very favorable.” Recently, the Legislature placed on next year’s ballot a proposal to reduce the local vote requirement for property and sales tax increases for local public works projects from two-thirds to 55%. Voters disagreed with the proposal by a 41% to 37% margin.

Voters are disinclined to re-elect a legislator who messes with Proposition 13, with 59% saying they would be less likely to re-elect a legislator who voted to place on the ballot the measure that would reduce the local vote requirement for higher taxes.

Health Care

Single-payer health care has been resurrected as an issue in the Legislature. With this in mind, 87% of voters report that they are satisfied with their health insurance (asked of those with insurance), and 45% report that they are “very satisfied.”

Among those with private health insurance, 78% respond that they would rather keep their private insurance, as opposed to switching to a government-run single-payer approach.

Labor Law Reform

On the ballot in November 2024 will be a measure to change how labor laws are enforced in California. It would require Labor Code violations to be handled by independent state regulators, direct 100% of penalties be paid to employees and double penalties for employers who willfully violate labor laws.

Voters support this measure, also known as Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) reform, by a 62% to 16% margin.

Asked further what would be the better way to deal with Labor Code violations, nearly half (49%) of voters surveyed preferred independent state regulators, while 21% preferred trial attorneys.


Methodology

The 9th Annual CalChamber People's Voice survey was conducted online by Bold Decision among N=1,002 California 2024 general election likely voters from Monday, October 2 – Sunday, October 8, 2023. The overall margin of error is +/- 3.10% at the 95% confidence interval and higher for subgroups. Certain questions were split-sampled to reduce respondent fatigue. Certain findings may total more or less than 100% due to rounding.

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