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California voters want to work with Trump, poll finds

Where do California and Donald Trump differ?

California voters rejected Donald Trump during the election, and the state's leaders continue to push back on his initiatives. On issues from health care to immigration, California's governor and Democratic leaders oppose the new president.
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California voters rejected Donald Trump during the election, and the state's leaders continue to push back on his initiatives. On issues from health care to immigration, California's governor and Democratic leaders oppose the new president.

California voters overwhelmingly oppose Donald Trump, believing his policies will have negative effects on the state. But a slim majority still want their leaders to work with the Republican president, even if it means making compromises, according to the Berkeley IGS Poll.

The statewide survey released late Monday found just over half of voters, 53 percent, say their mostly Democratic officials should try to collaborate with Trump rather than resist the president at every turn (47 percent).

Californians also express no desire to break off from the rest of the country, with nearly 70 percent saying they are inclined to vote “no” on a proposal for the state to declare independence from the U.S. The measure, known as Calexit, has not qualified for the ballot.

Results of the poll on Trump reflect the early approach taken by Gov. Jerry Brown, whose stances on the president’s policy prescriptions have been more nuanced and measured than Democratic legislative leaders. Brown was in Washington, D.C., last week to appeal to the new administration and Republican leaders for disaster relief for the winter storms as well as transportation and infrastructure funding.

The fourth-term governor has not been universally accepting of the Republican president, however. Brown said the GOP health care repeal would be responsible for “death, disease, and suffering.” And he dismissed Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall as “ominous” and reminiscent of the Berlin Wall.

“We’re going to fight, and we’re going to fight very hard,” Brown said, summarizing his position on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But we’re not going to bring stupid lawsuits or be running to the courthouse every day. We’re going to be careful. We’ll be strategic.”

The Berkeley IGS Poll was taken in the days before Trump and House Republicans failed to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law viewed as former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement. The overhaul effort, the final version of which would have stripped away essential health benefits, didn’t have the support of any House Democrats and ultimately faltered when large blocs of conservatives and moderates refused to sign on with leaders. Its collapse has spurred suggestions that Trump forge new coalitions with Democrats.

The IGS survey showed a high degree of partisanship from California voters when determining how they want their leaders to respond to Trump. Only 32 percent of Democrats favor compromise from their officials, compared with 68 percent who prefer to see universal opposition, even it if risks negative consequences for the state and possible reductions in federal funding. Still, unaligned voters who broke strongly for Democrat Hillary Clinton are evenly split.

“Nonpartisan voters typically show you which way the wind is blowing. That’s what’s revealing to me here,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll. He noted that Brown has come to transcend his party in many respects.

The public is more in sync with the positions that (Jerry) Brown has taken than legislative leaders, so far.

Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley IGS Poll

“The public is more in sync with the positions that Brown has taken than legislative leaders so far,” DiCamillo added. “I think at some point the state has to come to terms with the new president and look out what for what’s in the best interest of the state.”

Trump begins his presidency with the lowest opening job-approval ratings of any new president in California in 60 years, as measured by the Field Poll. Sixty-one percent disapprove of the job he’s doing, compared with 65 percent approval for Obama in March 2009.

Just 67 days into his presidency, a large number of California voters, 53 percent to 30 percent, think Trump’s proposals will harm the state in various ways.

Asked to assess a dozen policy areas under Trump, more Californians foresee negative consequences in 10 of the sectors, including preventing terrorist attacks, energy production, illegal immigration, health care and the rights of minorities.

Two categories where Trump’s proposed changes in federal laws and policies are seen as more positive than negative relate to his pledges to improve highways, bridges and dams and on how he’ll handle jobs and the economy.

The Trump administration’s moves will continue to test the resolve of the resistance in Californians: On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions continued Trump’s tough talk against “sanctuary cities” that shelter people in the country illegally by refusing to assist the federal government to enforce the law.

California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, a Democrat from Los Angeles, referred to Sessions’ remarks as “nothing short of blackmail.”

Asked his position on “sanctuary cities” in Washington, Brown noted his signature on the Trust Act, which set guidelines dictating when local law enforcement must detain arrested immigrants. Still, Brown said the term “sanctuary,” when applied to politics, is “fuzzier” than his original orientation, which was the church.

“There may be other improvements or changes,” Brown said, not addressing the pending “sanctuary state” measure, Senate Bill 54, by de León. “I will consider them, specifically, but I don’t want an over-inclusive general term that has a lot of of ring to it but doesn’t have the specificity I think good legislation requires.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Department of Justice will stop awarding grants to sanctuary cities during a White House press briefing. "Unfortunately some states and cities have adopted policies designed to frustrate the enforc

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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