Capitol Alert

Poll: California Legislature’s approval rating up, Jerry Brown at record high

Standing on the back platform of a railroad car, Gov. Jerry Brown, accompanied by his wife, Anne Gust Brown, addresses a crowd at an inaugural reception held in his honor at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Jan. 5, 2015.
Standing on the back platform of a railroad car, Gov. Jerry Brown, accompanied by his wife, Anne Gust Brown, addresses a crowd at an inaugural reception held in his honor at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Jan. 5, 2015. AP

Gov. Jerry Brown’s job approval rating is at a record high, and Californians are in such good spirits that even the Legislature and President Barack Obama’s ratings are rebounding, according to a new poll.

In the first month of Brown’s historic fourth term, 61 percent of California adults approve of the way he is handling his job, according to the poll released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California. That is up from 54 percent in December and runs 20 percentage points higher than when Brown took office in January 2011.

Forty-nine percent of adults approve of the way the Legislature is handling its job, the body’s highest rating since 2002. Obama’s job approval rating among Californians has risen to 60 percent, its highest point since mid-2013.

Improving marks for California politicians reflects an overall improvement in the public’s mood. Fifty-seven percent of adults say things in California are generally going in the right direction, up from 50 percent in December, according to the poll.

Thirty-six percent of Californians say things are generally on the wrong track.

Democrats and independent voters are far more likely than Republicans to hold a positive outlook. Seventy-two percent of Democrats and 56 percent of independents say things are going in the right direction, while less than one-quarter of Republicans feel that way in this heavily Democratic state.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who announced this month that she will not seek re-election next year, saw her job approval rating rise to 53 percent among California adults, up 12 percentage points from September, according to the poll. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s job approval rating among adults stands at 54 percent.

Thirty-eight percent of California adults approve of the newly elected Congress, up from 24 percent in October, according to the poll.

The poll comes at the start of annual budget talks in Sacramento, and for the first time since 2007, fewer than 50 percent of Californians call the budget a big problem. Half of adults favor extending temporary tax increases passed in 2012, while 42 percent oppose the idea, according to the poll.

Slightly more than half of adults – 52 percent – say the state should use surplus budget money to pay down debt and build up reserves, while 44 percent of adults say California should restore some funding for social service programs, according to the poll.

“Budget worries are finally subsiding in California,” poll director Mark Baldassare said in a prepared statement. “Still, most Californians want their state budget to focus on paying down debt instead of restoring social service funding, and voters are willing to extend the Proposition 30 tax increases.”

Call David Siders, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1215. Follow him on Twitter @davidsiders.

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