Californians have a lot of love for state officials, but little for the feds

February 10, 2014

California Gov. Jerry Brown. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

Among Californians, Gov. Jerry Brown couldn’t do any better but President Obama could hardly do worse, according to a new Public Policy Institute of California survey.

The survey reveals a rift—maybe a reflection of reality—among Californians in terms of attitudes toward government. State officials have high approval ratings, while federal ones don’t. And a majority believe the state government can get things done this year, while the opposite is true of the federal government.

Local approval at recent highs

Approval of Brown is at a record-high 58 percent of adults. Obama’s approval, at 53 percent, is just two percentage points above it’s record low. Attitudes of Obama are at five-year lows, while those of Congress are nearly there, too. Just over half of Californians approve of their own U.S. House representative. Meanwhile, Brown and the state legislature are enjoying their best approval ratings since he took office in 2011.

State v. federal approval among Californians. (Public Policy Institute of California)
(Public Policy Institute of California)

Faith in the state, not the feds

That local optimism extends to how productive Golden State residents expect state officials will be this year. A majority expect to see the all-Democrat legislature work with Brown, also a Democrat, with the gap between optimists and pessimists at 23 percentage points. At the federal level, that’s flipped with those expecting this will be a productive year for Obama and a mixed Congress trailing those who don’t by the same margin.

State v. federal approval among Californians. (Public Policy Institute of California)
State v. federal approval among Californians. (Public Policy Institute of California)


Californians haven’t been this positive about the state’s budget situation since before the recession, according to the poll. Although half still see the budget as a big problem. (All but 10 percent see it as either “somewhat of a problem” or a “big problem.”)

At least three in four support more spending on K-12 education and higher education, while nearly the same share oppose more spending on prisons and corrections.

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.
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Niraj Chokshi · February 10, 2014