Politics & Government

California voters remain unhappy with Legislature, survey finds

Fueled by partisan and geographic differences, satisfaction with the Legislature continued a downward swing that began after a state senator was arrested on corruption charges earlier this year, according to a Field Poll released Friday.

About a third of voters – 35 percent – approved of the job lawmakers are doing, while nearly half – 47 percent – disapproved.

Views of the Legislature were improving early this year but took a turn after Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, became the third Democratic lawmaker suspended in the wake of a political scandal.

The April poll, half of which was conducted before Yee’s arrest, showed 43 percent of voters satisfied with the Legislature’s performance. In the latest poll, approval fell eight points, to 35 percent.

Half of voters affiliated with the Democratic Party, which controls the Legislature, approve of the job lawmakers are doing, compared with only 18 percent of Republicans and 28 percent of independents.

The partisan divide, poll director Mark DiCamillo said, was likely reinforced by the passage of a budget this month that reflected several Democratic priorities.

“They are reacting in a fairly predictable, partisan way toward that budget,” he said.

Lawmakers fared worse in inland counties – 59 percent gave them low marks – compared with more Democratic coastal counties, where only 42 percent rated them poorly.

The trend is partly due to where Republicans and Democrats are registered, DiCamillo said. But he also said the difference could be because of legislators’ slow response to the drought and a sense that budgets deliver more resources to urban areas.

Bakersfield resident Ryan Robertson, 21, said he likes his representatives but feels that the Legislature as a whole does not reflect his concerns.

“They are very radical,” said Robertson, who is an independent but describes himself as conservative. “They are sporadic and create laws that we don’t need in our lives.”

Despite the Legislature’s low job rating, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown remains highly popular, a difference DiCamillo attributes to Brown appearing more moderate than the Legislature.

“He’s not seen as a strong partisan Democrat in his policies and instincts regarding the Legislature, which I think voters believe is a more partisan body and responsive to Democratic voter constituencies,” DiCamillo said. “That has served him well and is why he’s receiving a much higher job rating than the Legislature.”

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