LOS ANGELES—California voters are getting less pessimistic about their state government, according to a recent poll.
The poll, conducted by the University of California (USC) and the LA Times, suggests the majority of voters approve of Gov. Jerry Brown and the state legislature.
Even as three Democratic state senators were recently charged with crimes related to corruption, the approval numbers did not seem to be affected.
“We saw some optimism there, which was surprising. We thought we would see more cynicism,” said Kerstyn Olson, Interim Director of the Unruh Institute at USC, which was involved in creating the poll.
Gov. Brown is running for an unprecedented fourth term this year, the first two of which he served from 1975–1982.
At the primaries on Tuesday, voters will pick which Republican candidate will run against Brown. But according to the poll, neither has a strong chance; the poll responses indicate that if the general election were held today, Brown would defeat both main Republican candidates: Tim Donnelly 54-26 and Neel Kashkari 55-27.
“In politics, over 50% is considered high, so the word ‘high’ is sort of relative in this case, but he does have some high approval numbers,” said Olson.
Although Gov. Brown has a clear advantage in a Democratic state like California, he does have lower approval ratings on some individual issues. Those include prison reform, poverty, and drought management.
Governor Brown may have to address these issues if he wants to ensure his reelection in November.
When Brown was elected in November 2010, 77 percent of voters had a negative outlook about California’s future. That’s when California faced a deeper recession and a $25B budget shortfall. Now, amidst a budget surplus and slow economic recovery, the latest poll shows less pessimism: Only 46 percent said the state is on the “wrong track.”