In part, view of the future follows ethnic lines

Optimism in California’s future is on the rise and more people believe the state is headed in the right direction. But one critical segment of the population rejects those positive views — aging whites.


The recent survey by the Public Policy Institute of California showed that nearly two-thirds of the whites surveyed – 60 percent — believe California is headed in the wrong direction.


The negative view was in direct contrast to two other ethnic groups, Latinos and Asians, who narrowly believe the state is on right track – 54 percent of Latinos and 51 percent of Asians.


In part, the whites’ view reflects the nature of new social and political realities. Other ethnic groups, led by Latinos, have increased their political muscle in recent years as they push for clout in governments and organized labor.


Overall, less than half those surveyed, some 44 percent, said the state was headed in the right direction, but that was 6 points higher than just two months ago and the highest since June 2007.


The Latinos’ rise also fuels the increasing power of Democrats and shapes their view of the future outlook: Some 61 percent of Democrats say the state is on the right track.


Meanwhile, four out of five Republicans say California is going in the wrong direction.


Far more closely divided about the future course are independents, the fastest-growing segment of the California electorate, with 55 percent of them unhappy with the state’s direction.


Confidence in the future declines with age. Among all adults surveyed, of those 55 and older barely a third had a positive outlook – some 37 percent.  For 18-to-34-year-olds that level was 50 percent.


Interestingly, optimism about the state’s direction seems to rise as household income goes down.


“Optimism about the direction of the state is higher among those with household incomes under $40,000 (50%) than among others (42%, $40,000 to $80,000; 39%, $80,000 or more),” the survey noted.



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