Californians’ spirits, once parched by California’s punishing drought, have rebounded amid recent rains, according to a new poll.
The Field Poll, released Thursday, comes as storms are dumping snow in the Sierra Nevada and rain throughout the state, bringing hope that California’s four-year drought might ease.
Fifty percent of registered voters say things in California are generally going in the right direction, up 10 percentage points from May, according to the poll. Forty-two percent of voters say the state is seriously off on the wrong track.
The poll brings California voters’ assessment of the overall direction of the state back in line with February 2015 measures, before Gov. Jerry Brown ordered the first mandatory water cutbacks in California history.
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“The May figures declined due to the drought, and now that we’re having rain again, it’s kind of a return to normalcy,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll.
Though state officials have cautioned that one wet winter is unlikely to fully replenish state water supplies, DiCamillo said that for many voters, the drought is no longer “the worrisome thing that’s going to derail the state’s overall direction.”
He said, “I think voters are relieved in many ways that the rains have arrived, El Niño is here and they’re basically ... more optimistic about the future.”
I think voters are relieved in many ways that the rains have arrived, El Niño is here and they’re basically ... more optimistic about the future.
Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll
Tina Ann Bell, a 44-year-old Democrat from Sacramento, attributed her positive outlook to the state’s improving budget and a government she said functions with less partisan rancor than Washington.
But the rain has lifted a burden, too, the lawyer said.
“That is comforting,” Bell said. “I’m not going to fib. I like the idea that there’s going to be water in the lake.”
Gov. Brown’s relatively favorable public approval ratings, meanwhile, are holding steady.
Brown, a fourth-term Democrat, has remained relatively popular since returning to office in 2011, and his job approval rating of 56 percent was in line with recent measures.
A majority of voters say Brown has the right experience to deal with California’s problems, has the vision to lead the state into the future and is making California a world leader in reducing the state’s dependence on fossil fuels.
However, voters are split on whether Brown is doing enough to help the average Californian, and a majority fault him for favoring “too many big government projects that the state cannot afford right now.”
Brown is pursuing construction of a $68 billion high-speed rail system and a pair of tunnels to divert water beneath the Delta to the south.
California voters’ opinions about both Brown and the overall direction of the state are highly partisan, with majorities of Democrats holding positive views, Republicans negative ones.
Ingeborg Popovich, a 79-year-old Republican from Folsom, said she has more enduring concerns about the state than a wet winter can cure.
“Taxes,” the poll respondent said. “To the point I feel like moving to Nevada.”