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Cost of Living Tops Californians’ Concerns in Online Poll

Cost of Living Tops Californians’ Concerns in Online Poll

A woman checks items at a supermarket in Alhambra, California, on July 13, 2022. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Sophie Li
Sophie Li

6/19/2024

Updated: 6/25/2024

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More than one-third of Californians say the cost of living is the most pressing challenge facing the state and the nation, with smaller percentages citing housing affordability, homelessness, and crime and drug issues, a recent study shows.
The Public Policy Institute of California has released its June statewide survey, showing that economic conditions including inflation are most commonly mentioned as the Golden State’s pressing problem.
“It’s noteworthy that we really haven’t seen this high of a share going to a single topic since February 2021, when COVID was named as the top issue,” Dean Bonner, associate survey director at the institute, said on June 14 during a webinar on the survey. The survey was conducted between May 23 and June 2 among 1,600 adult residents.
In addition, most Californians surveyed believe the state is headed in the wrong direction and expect financial hardship in the next 12 months—a sentiment that has gradually increased over the past year.
This is also reflected in the 42 percent of surveyed Californians who say the state’s budget deficit is a “big problem.”
While more than half of respondents still support Gov. Gavin Newsom’s May revised budget, opinions on specific spending cuts and the use of rainy-day funds are more divided, the survey shows. The state Legislature passed the budget bill on June 13, and it now awaits the governor’s signature to be enacted.
Most respondents also said they prefer paying lower taxes, even if it means the state government provides fewer services. The majority also support raising taxes on the wealthiest Californians and the largest corporations in the state.
Nineteen percent of those surveyed identified housing affordability as their top concern, while 13 percent selected homelessness, and 7 percent named crime and drugs.
“We find the majority of Californians saying that the cost of housing is placing a financial strain on their family,” Mr. Bonner said.
The survey also indicated partisan differences, with Democrats and independents more likely to cite housing and homelessness as their top concerns, while Republicans tended to say government in general is the top issue.
Across the board, the survey also reveals that fewer than half of the respondents approve of Mr. Newsom, the Legislature, and their own legislators.
Chinese illegal immigrants walk to Willow Camp before being processed by Border Patrol agents in Jacumba, Calif., on Dec. 6, 2023.  The online poll found concerns about immigration are more prominent among Republicans. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Chinese illegal immigrants walk to Willow Camp before being processed by Border Patrol agents in Jacumba, Calif., on Dec. 6, 2023.  The online poll found concerns about immigration are more prominent among Republicans. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Concerns About the US

On a national level, the cost of living and the economy were again the top concern of Californians, mentioned by 26 percent, followed by the performance of government and elected officials, mentioned by 19 percent.
Ten percent of those surveyed also see immigration and illegal immigration as a top concern for the country. Crime, drugs, homelessness, and housing costs were mentioned by about 5 percent.
Also, regardless of political stance, similar proportions across these groups identify government in general as one of the top issues.
However, Mr. Bonner said concerns about immigration are far more prominent among Republicans.
“Economic concerns are the top issue across most groups, although it is noteworthy that Republicans are about as likely to say immigration as they are economic concerns, or government in general,” he said.
With all these concerns accumulating, people today are more pessimistic, the report said.
According to the survey, three in four California adults and likely voters believe the United States is headed in the wrong direction, and this sentiment has grown since May 2021, when it was 43 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Only 23 percent of those think the country is on the right track—the lowest since August 2008.
Similarly, nearly 70 percent of Californians expect tough economic times in the country over the next year.
“You'll be finding that most Californians offer a pessimistic assessment of both the direction and the economic outlook for the state and the nation,” Mr. Bonner said.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden board Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport on June 16, 2024.  More than one-third of likely voters said they were "very interested" in the presidential debates. (Mandel Ngan / AFP)

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden board Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport on June 16, 2024.  More than one-third of likely voters said they were "very interested" in the presidential debates. (Mandel Ngan / AFP)

Upcoming Elections

According to the report, 42 percent of adults and 50 percent of likely voters approve of President Joe Biden’s job performance, while solid majorities disapprove of the U.S. Congress and their local U.S. House representative.
With the June 27 presidential debate approaching, people were also asked for their opinions on the candidates.
While national polls suggest a tight race, President Biden maintains a significant lead over former President Donald Trump in California, at 55 percent to 31 percent. Additionally, 36 percent of likely voters in California said they were “very interested” in the upcoming debates.
The survey also shows that partisans overwhelmingly continue to support their party’s candidate, despite criticism of President Biden over Middle East policy within his party and former President Trump’s trial and conviction on felony charges.
In the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Adam Schiff leads Republican Steve Garvey by 62 percent to 37 percent. While more than 90 percent of partisans support their party’s candidate, independents are more evenly divided, with Mr. Schiff receiving more support.
Also, a solid majority (62 percent) of likely voters in the Golden State would vote for the Democratic candidate in the U.S. House races.
Moreover, Mr. Bonner said that “the November ballot will likely be pretty full, with voters being asked to weigh in on quite a few measures.”
Four constitutional amendments have officially qualified for the November ballot after approval by the Legislature, including measures on marriage equality, removing voters’ approval for low-income housing projects, letting local governments—with 55 percent voter approval—fund affordable housing and public infrastructure projects through special taxes, and mandating that a law requiring a two-thirds vote on some issue be approved by two-thirds of the voters.
Additionally, 10 ballot initiatives are listed as eligible by the secretary of state, and four more are currently under review after proponents submitted signatures.
Voters will know which initiatives will appear on the ballot by June 27.
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Sophie Li
Sophie Li
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Sophie Li is a Southern California-based reporter covering local daily news, state policies, and breaking news for The Epoch Times. Besides writing, she is also passionate about reading, photography, and tennis.

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