Capitol Alert

Is presidential race dimming Californians’ view of the nation?

Gov. Jerry Brown, right, speaks in his office on Monday after signing into law a bill increasing the amount of income Californians can receive during paid family leave.
Gov. Jerry Brown, right, speaks in his office on Monday after signing into law a bill increasing the amount of income Californians can receive during paid family leave. AP

Californians are souring on the overall direction of the country, with a strong majority now believing the U.S. is seriously heading in the wrong direction, according to a new Field Poll.

Amid the acrimonious presidential primary, just 32 percent now see the country as being on the right track. The grim assessment of the nation is being heavily influenced by downbeat Republicans, just 11 percent of whom believe things are improving, poll director Mark DiCamillo said Tuesday.

Republican voters have long been displeased with the President Barack Obama and many of their representatives in Washington. However, the GOP presidential primary has helped foster a new level of resentment, DiCamillo said, pointing to the months of televised candidate debates.

The candidates are saying how bad it is over and over again.

Mark DiCamillo, Field Poll director

“The candidates are saying how bad it is over and over again,” he said of the tenor of the confrontations. “And it’s falling on receptive ears, because Republicans are listening to those debates and agreeing with the candidates.”

Reverberations of the election have made things so bad that 83 percent of Republicans now say the U.S. is seriously off on the wrong track. Things could become worse as Republicans Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich prepare their vigorous dashes for delegates here come June 7.

 

Those feelings contrast sharply with Californians’ views of their own state. Some 52 percent of voters here think California is heading in the right direction, compared with 42 percent who say things are spiraling downward. Six percent offer no opinion.

Gov. Jerry Brown continues to receive high marks. Field found that 55 percent of voters approve of his performance, while 36 percent disapprove. Majorities have given the four-term Democrat upbeat ratings in 11 straight Field Polls taken over the last three years.

While Brown, who is in his final term, is experiencing a slight uptick in negative ratings by Republicans and independents since earlier this year, the drop is not enough to determine a trend given the small sample sizes, DiCamillo said.

Broadly speaking, he said the numbers of Californians satisfied with their chief executive and state may be giving one-party rule a good name. For years Democrats have had a firm grip on the Legislature and governor’s office. DiCamillo noted that voters consistently tell pollsters they prefer divided government, a scenario where one party controls the executive branch and the other the Legislative.

But “given the generally good feelings voters are having under the Brown administration maybe they will begin changing that tune,” he said.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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