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Orange County Residents Say ‘Yes’ to “Racial Privacy” Initiative on the October 7 Ballot


July 30, 2003

Latest Findings, CSUF – OCBC Quarterly Survey:

County Residents By Wide Margins:
• Would Vote to Approve “Racial Privacy” Initiative
• Would Vote to Recall Governor Davis

Orange County Residents Say ‘Yes’ to “Racial Privacy” Initiative on the October 7 Ballot

The Center for Public Policy in partnership with the Orange County Business Council has previously reported that residents of Orange County are strongly in favor of the recall of Governor Davis.

Now, with a special election set for October 7th, we report an additional finding:
• Orange County residents favor strongly Proposition 54, which would amend the state constitution to prohibit state agencies from classifying persons by race.

The finding arises from the latest survey of Orange County residents undertaken by the Center for Public Policy at Cal State Fullerton in partnership with the Orange County Business Council.

The initiative, a proposed constitutional amendment, has as its most prominent sponsor Ward Connerly, a regent of the University of California. The initiative is frequently called the “Racial Privacy Initiative,” although the name is informal.

County residents were asked the following question.
The Racial Privacy Initiative would prohibit state and local governments from using race, ethnicity, color or national origin to classify current or prospective students, contractors, or employees in public education, contracting or employment operations. If the election were held today, would you vote yes or no on this measure?

As Table One indicates, nearly seven out of ten Orange County residents would vote to “yes” to approve the measure, if the election were held today.

Table One: How Orange County Residents Would “Vote Today” on the Racial Privacy Initiative
Would Vote Yes 69%
Would Vote No 31%

Julie Puentes, executive vice president of the Orange County Business Council, noted: "In a county with rapidly changing demographics and voter registration (Republicans no longer hold a majority in the county, and the registration trend is toward "other" in recent years, rather than Republican or Democrat), the fact that 69% favor this initiative is rather surprising. These results would be more characteristic of a strongly conservative, Republican community."

“Orange County support for the initiative would be expected to be strong,” noted Keith Boyum, CSUF political science professor and Center for Public Policy director. “The county is still one of California’s most conservative areas.”

“Of course, the campaign has yet really to begin; and it is a commonplace that most ballot measures begin with higher approval ratings than they end up with, following campaigns,” noted Boyum. “For all of that, initiative supporters should be pleased with this strong showing of support.”

Governor Recall Data. As a convenience, we provide below in Table Two the key findings concerning the proposed recall of Governor Gray Davis. These findings have previously been released.

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 office, 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 Two: 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%

Noted Phillip Gianos, CSUF professor of political science: “The pro-recall forces are more intense than those opposed to it. It might be that agreement on the state budget, with the July 29 concurrence of the Assembly in the state Senate’s budget, will take some of the wind out of the pro-recall forces -- if not in terms of organization and funding, then at least in terms of voter turnout.”

Comparison: Recall Governor; Racial Privacy. In that roughly seven out of ten county residents would vote yes on both – yes to recall the governor; yes to adopt the racial privacy initiative – it is natural to ask about the degree of overlap. In other words: Are the same people inclined to vote yes on both measures?

Interestingly, there is some variation. Our data show that 29% of those who want to remove the governor say that they would vote No on the question of approving the racial privacy initiative.

Meanwhile, among those who would vote No on the governor’s recall – who wish to retain Davis in office – some 64% would vote Yes on the racial privacy initiative.

This is set out in Tables Three and Four.

Table Three: Of Those Inclined to Recall Governor Davis: Voting Intention on “Racial Privacy Initiative”
Of those who would vote Yes to remove Governor Davis:
71% would vote Yes on “Racial Privacy Initiative”
29% would vote No on “Racial Privacy Initiative”

Table Four: Of Those Inclined NOT to Recall Governor Davis: Voting Intention on “Racial Privacy Initiative”
Of those who would vote No to remove Governor Davis:
64% would vote Yes on “Racial Privacy Initiative”
36% would vote No on “Racial Privacy Initiative”

“The point is, in the minds of Orange County residents, the two issues are more independent than some activists or ideologues might suppose,” noted Phillip Gianos, CSUF professor of political science. “The campaign could change things — intense campaign messages could sway Davis supporters one way, and Davis recallers the other way. But at this very early point in a campaign, Orange County residents don’t necessarily associate the Connerly initiative with the Davis recall.”


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 Gregory Robinson.

Telephone interviews were conducted utilizing Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) equipment and software. The CATI system is a sophisticated 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:  

Phillip Gianos, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science at 657-278-4713 Cell: (714) 267-4337

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

Julie Puentes, Executive Vice President at (949) 794-7217

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