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Research

County Residents Weigh In On Statewide Issues

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July 16, 2003

Latest Findings, CSUF – OCBC Quarterly Survey:

County Residents By Wide Margins:
• Prefer Mix of Program Cuts and Tax Increases to Balance State Budget
• Disapprove of Governor Davis
• Would Vote to Recall Governor Davis
• Disapprove of Legislature

 

County Residents Weigh In On Statewide Issues :
• Prefer Mix of Program Cuts and Tax Increases to Balance State Budget
• Disapprove of Governor Davis
• Would Vote to Recall Governor Davis
• Disapprove of Legislature


Three quarters of Orange County residents would solve the current budget impasse in Sacramento with a balance of program cuts and tax and fee raises, according to the latest survey of Orange County residents undertaken by Cal State Fullerton’s Center for Public Policy and the Orange County Business Council.

Dates for interviews were June 23 through July 8, 2003.

Orange County residents reached in the June-July survey were asked the following question:
As you may know, the state government has a very large deficit estimated to be about 38 billion dollars. In general, for balancing the state budget, should California focus almost exclusively on cutting programs, almost exclusively on raising taxes and fees, or should we have a balance between program cuts and raising taxes and fees?

Results are shown in Table One.

Table One: Orange County Residents’ Views on Balancing the State Budget
Almost Exclusively Cut Programs 18%
Almost Exclusively Raise Taxes & Fees 7%
Balance Between Program Cuts and Raising Taxes & Fees 75%

A majority as large as this one means that the indicated sentiment would include both Republicans and Democrats in a county with a strong Republican registration advantage. We show in Table Two that this is, in fact, the case.

Table Two: County Residents Views on Balancing State Budget, By Political Party *

Republicans
Almost Exclusively Cut Programs 29%
Almost Exclusively Raise Taxes & Fees 3%
Balance Between Program Cuts and Raising Taxes & Fees 68%

Democrats
Almost Exclusively Cut Programs 10%
Almost Exclusively Raise Taxes & Fees 12%
Balance Between Program Cuts and Raising Taxes & Fees 78%

*Registered voters only. Minor party registrants and respondents who are registered decline to state also excluded from this analysis.


As will be seen, nearly seven out of ten Republicans and nearly eight out of ten Democrats favor some balance between program cuts and raising taxes and fees.

“We may note the obvious,” commented Keith Boyum, Center for Public Policy director and CSUF political science professor. “County residents would support a balanced proposal for a budget solution, rather than one that would lean nearly exclusively on cuts, or one that would lean nearly exclusively on new taxes and fees.”

The survey went on to ask respondents about approval / disapproval of both the governor and the legislature (discussed in detail below). We reviewed support for budget solutions by respondents’ opinions about each.

Respondents were asked simple questions about the performance for each (governor, legislature), as follows.

Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way that Gray Davis is handling his job as governor of California?
and
Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way that the California Legislature is handling its job?

As will be seen in Tables 3 and 4, large majorities (seven or eight out of ten) among both those who approve of the governor and the legislature, and those who disapprove, seek a balance in the Sacramento budget solution.

Table Three: County Residents Views on Balancing State Budget, By Approval / Disapproval of the Governor

Approve of Governor Disapprove of Governor
Almost Exclusively Cut Programs 7%
Almost Exclusively Raise Taxes & Fees 9%
Balance Between Program Cuts and Raising Taxes & Fees 84%

Disapprove of Governor
Almost Exclusively Cut Programs 21%
Almost Exclusively Raise Taxes & Fees 6%
Balance Between Program Cuts and Raising Taxes & Fees 73%

*Registered voters only. Minor party registrants and respondents who are registered decline to state also excluded from this analysis.

Table Four: County Residents Views on Balancing State Budget, By Approval / Disapproval of the Legislature

Approve of Legislature Disapprove of Legislature
Almost Exclusively Cut Programs 6%
Almost Exclusively Raise Taxes & Fees 8%
Balance Between Program Cuts and Raising Taxes & Fees 86%

Disapprove of Legislature
Almost Exclusively Cut Programs 22%
Almost Exclusively Raise Taxes & Fees 7%
Balance Between Program Cuts and Raising Taxes & Fees 7%

*Registered voters only. Minor party registrants and respondents who are registered decline to state also excluded.

“All in all, this finding that county residents prefer a balanced approach to the Sacramento budget problem is remarkably robust,” commented Boyum. “Republicans as well as Democrats, those who like the governor as well as those who disapprove of him, and those who approve of the legislature as well as those who disapprove – all want balance in approach to the budget solution.”

_________________________

County Residents Disapprove of Both Governor, Legislature. Using the questions provided above, the survey asked respondents for their views about the legislature and the governor. Results are shown in Tables 5 and 6.

As will be seen, approximately eight out of ten issue ratings of “disapprove” to both, the legislature and the governor.

Table Five: Orange County Residents’ Views on Gray Davis’ Handling of Job as Governor
Approve 18%
Disapprove 82%

Table Six: Orange County Residents’ Views on The Way the California Legislature is Handling Its Job
Approve 22%
Disapprove 78%

Previous Orange County Soundings on Gray Davis. Previous Center for Public Policy / Orange County Business Council surveys of residents of Orange County have asked respondents for their views about Gray Davis. Davis has never done well.

• When asked in July 2001 about the job he had done in handling the electrical crisis in California, 52% of Orange County residents gave Davis either “very poor” or “poor” evaluations.
• When asked in February 2002 pre-primary election survey about their preferences in hypothetical races between Davis and Riordan, or Davis and Simon, Orange County residents preferred Riordan by a wide margin, with Davis trailing Simon in the county by a very small margin.
• When asked in October 2002 about their preferences for gover-nor [in the election then-upcoming in November], only 65% of De-mocrats preferred Davis for the job, with 35% of Democrats prefer-ring another candidate.

County Residents Support Recall of Governor. Having asked respondents about approval / disapproval of both the legislature and the governor, the survey went on to ask Orange County residents about their views on the proposed recall of the governor. We asked the following question:
There is an effort under way to remove Governor Gray Davis from office in a recall election. If a special election to recall Governor Davis were held today, would you vote yes to remove Davis as governor or no to keep Davis as governor?

County residents, eight out of ten of whom disapprove of his performance in of-fice, by a slightly smaller margin of seven out of ten would vote “yes” to remove Governor Davis from office, if the election were held today. Data are shown in Table Seven.

Table Seven: Orange County Residents’ Voting Intention On Recall of Governor Davis
Would vote yes to remove Davis as governor 72%
Would vote no to keep Davis as governor 28%

As will be seen in a comparison of Tables Five and Seven, not all of those who disapprove of Davis’ job as governor would vote yes to remove him in a recall election. Indeed, as many as 14% of those respondents who said that they dis-approve of the governor’s performance told us that they would vote “no” on a re-call ballot, if it were held today.

Political party affiliation shows patterns in the expected direction. While a major-ity of our survey respondents in each political party would vote today to remove Davis from office, many more Republicans than Democrats cast that vote. De-tails are provided in Table Eight.

Table Eight: Willingness to Remove Governor in a Recall Election By Political Party

Republicans
Would vote yes to remove Davis as gover-nor 88%
Would vote no to keep Davis as governor 12%

Democrats
Would vote yes to remove Davis as gover-nor 52%
Would vote no to keep Davis as governor 48%

*Registered voters only. Minor party registrants and respondents who are registered decline to state also excluded.

“Clearly, this recall event has a long ways to go,” commented Keith Bo-yum, professor of political science and director of the CSUF Center for Public Policy. “Not only are we waiting to see just when the election will be held, but we are waiting also for the campaigns on both sides of the question. Davis is surely unpopular in Orange County, and I’d bet more than my customary nickel that he’ll lose here on a recall election. But our data show some wiggle-room: more than one out of ten Republicans, and about 14% of those from both parties who say they disapprove of his performance in office, tell us that they would not vote to remove him from office.”

“I would certainly underscore the view that this campaign is just begin-ning,” commented Phillip Gianos, professor of political science at Cal State Fullerton.

“Thus far, the ‘yeas’ on the recall have had most of the media coverage,” continued Gianos. “When a “keep Davis” campaign gets under way, we can ex-pect changes in the percentages we have found here. My hunch is that the final shape of the ballot, both as to timing (November versus March) and whose names are and whose names are not on that ballot, will be very important. In other words, when the question voters must answer shifts from a simple referendum on Davis to who / what will succeed him, we can expect changes in these findings.”

“These numbers are awful. No one is making any political points with the
public in this current environment of gridlock and partisan nastiness,” noted Stan Oftelie, president and CEO of the Orange County Business Council. “No one looks good in Sacramento. In retrospect, we should have asked voters if they were willing to recall their local legislators as well as the Governor. It seems Orange County voters have a pretty strong, ‘throw all the bums out’ attitude about state government.”

_________________________

Previous results of CSUF/OCBC quarterly surveys are conveniently accessible on the OCBC web site. See: http://www.ocbc.org/resourcesf.htm

_________________________

The current survey was conducted for the CSUF Center for Public Policy / Orange County Business Council team by the Social Science Research Center at California State University, Fullerton (SSRC). The SSRC director is Dr. Greg-ory Robinson.

Telephone interviews were conducted utilizing Computer Assisted Tele-phone Interviewing (CATI) equipment and software. The CATI system is a so-phisticated information gathering protocol that contributes to the accuracy of data and to preserving the random nature of the sample.

A draft survey instrument was provided by the Center for Public Policy and refined by the Social Science Research Center for comprehensiveness, flow, length and factors that influence respondent cooperation and interest. Sample design and technical assistance with data analysis were provided by the SSRC.

The survey of Orange County residents took place between June 23 and July 8, 2003. Five hundred one randomly selected households are represented in the data. Interviews were conducted in English only. Calculated conservatively, the confidence interval for findings noted is plus / minus 4.47 per cent. Confidence intervals around subgroups within the sample are broader.

###

For Further Information:  

Keith Boyum, Ph.D., Associate Vice President, Academic Programs at (949) 857-2815 Cell: (714) 401-4109

Stan Oftelie, President and CEO at (949) 794-7213

Wallace Walrod, Ph.D.,Vice President, Research & Communications at (949) 476-2242


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