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Democrat Brown draws GOP support; voters split on state’s direction

Gov. Jerry Brown in the state Capitol last year. (Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images)

The latest Field Poll finds nearly six in ten California voters (58%) approving of the job Jerry Brown is doing as Governor, while just 26% disapprove. This nearly equals his record approval rating of 59% that he achieved a little more than a year ago in April 2014. At the same time, the proportion disapproving of the Governor’s performance (26%) has declined and is now lower than any time since March 2011.

What’s striking about Brown’s latest poll numbers is that more Californians outside of his party are now offering a more positive assessment of the Governor. At present, 37% of rank-and-file Republicans currently approve of the job Brown is doing, up from 27% who said this three months ago. Click here to see the complete poll and methodology.

The uptick in Brown’s job approval is occurring despite the fact that voters continue to hold a decidedly mixed assessment of the state’s overall direction. At present, 40% of voters think California is moving in the right direction, while another 40% believe it is seriously off on the wrong track.

Voter views of the performance of the state Legislature are similarly mixed, with 37% approving and 38% disapproving of its performance, and one in four voters (25%) offering no opinion.

Brown job approval approaches his previous record high for his current tenure
Brown’s approval rating in the latest poll – 58% approving and 26% disapproving – nearly equals his record high job approval rating of 59%, which he achieved among voters in April 2014. In addition, the proportion of voters now disapproving of his performance (26%) is at the lowest level since March 2011. While a very positive assessment, these ratings do not match the highs Brown once received early on during his first stint as Governor in the mid-1970s. According to Field Polls conducted in 1975 and 1976, shortly after he was first elected Governor, Brown received positive job marks from two-thirds or more of the California public.

Brown’s approval ratings across subgroups of the registered voter population
The current poll finds that Brown is not only continuing to obtain very positive job marks from fellow Democrats, he has also significantly improved his standing with registered Republicans. At present, 37% of the state’s GOP voters now say they approve of the job Brown is doing, up from 27% who said this three months ago.

Voters continue to hold mixed views of the overall direction of the state
The uptick in the Governor’s job approval rating is occurring despite the fact that voters continue to offer a decidedly mixed assessment of the state’s overall direction. At present, 40% of the state’s voters think California is moving in the right direction, while another 40% believe it is seriously off on the wrong track. This is a less positive view than three months ago, when 50% felt the state was moving in the right direction and 41% did not.

There are big partisan and regional differences in voter assessments of the direction that California is heading. By a two to one margin (56% to 28%), Democrats hold an upbeat appraisal. However, Republicans take an opposite view, with 58% saying things are moving in the wrong direction and just 22% believing the state is heading in the right direction.

Voters living in California’s inland counties also offer much more negative assessments of the state’s overall direction than voters living in the state’s more populous coastal counties. At present, 58% of inland county voters think California is seriously off on the wrong track, while just 25% believe it is moving in the right direction. Among coastal county voters, 45% say things are moving in the right direction while 33% say things are seriously off in the wrong track.

Divided views about the performance of the state legislature Voter assessments of the performance of the state legislature are also mixed, with 37% approving and 38% disapproving of its performance. A relatively large proportion (25%) has no opinion. These results are similar to voter opinions of the legislature three months ago. Job approval ratings of the legislature are highly partisan and vary by region. Democrats view the Democratically-controlled legislature in a generally positive light, with 45% approving and 29% disapproving.

Republican voters, on the other hand, hold a mostly negative view, with 55% disapproving and 24% approving. In addition, there are wide differences in opinions of the legislature by region. More voters living in the state’s populous coastal counties approve (39%) than disapprove (35%) of the job the legislature is doing. By contrast, voters in the state’s inland counties disapprove 47% to 29%.

Ed’s Note: The telephone survey was completed April 23-May 16, 2015 among a random sample of 1,664 California adults, which included 1,044 registered voters. To capture the diversity of the California population, the survey was administered in six languages and dialects – English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Korean, depending on the preference of the voter.

 


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