The Washington Post

The California legislature’s approval is more than four times that of Congress

The state Christmas tree outside California’s Capitol building. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

The California state legislature’s approval rating is now more than four times that of its federal counterpart.

Forty percent of California voters approved of the state legislature in an early December survey, the highest such rating since mid-2007, according to the nonpartisan Field Research Corporation. The last time approval remained that high for a year was 2002 when the average annual approval was 40 percent. The turnaround in approval, which was as low as 10 percent in September 2010, mirrors a similar trend in the state’s finances.

“The state was facing massive budget deficits and everyone, every elected official in Sacramento, got their share of the blame,” said Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo. “And now they’re forecasting higher than expected budget surpluses. … It’s just a better time. Both the governor’s and the legislature’s ratings are trending higher.”

Voter attitudes toward the legislature have improved significantly even over the past year, according to the Field release. Disapproval was consistently between 62 percent and 80 percent from 2008 to 2012. Now it’s down to 44 percent, its first time below 50 percent in over five years.

Approval of the federal legislature, on the other hand, was 9 percent in November, the lowest in the 39 years Gallup has tracked it. The last time federal approval was above 40 percent was in 2004, when it averaged 42 percent.

Here’s a side-by-side look at approval for the federal and California legislatures, according to Field and Gallup data.

NOTE: The timeline is restricted by the data in the Field release, so only annual averages with some gaps are available through 2007. After that, periodic monthly approval data was given. In cases where the Field and Gallup data didn’t align exactly, the closest value—typically a matter of a few weeks—was used. 

Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

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