Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, inaugurated for a second term on January 5th,
has widely popular policies.
Californians are strongly in favor of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, very hopeful that last year’s bipartisan cooperation in state government will continue, greatly favor universal health care for children, and deadset against the war in Iraq, according to the new Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll. Only 29% of Californians approve of President George W. Bush’s performance.
While Californians think their state is on the right track now, they don’t think America is. And this despite the Democratic takeover of Congress, which Californians support. Half have a favorable view of new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was not very well known before. By a 53% to 30% margin, respondents in the poll believe that Congress should set the direction of national policy, not the president. But that’s not the way the system works, so 60% see America heading in the wrong direction as they doubt that the bipartisan cooperation they expect in Sacramento will work in Washington.
The dismay about America’s direction is driven by Californians’ views of President Bush. While clear majorities disapprove of his budget, tax, health care, and environmental policies, the greatest disdain is reserved for his handling of the Iraq War.
75% disapprove of Bush’s Iraq policies, including a near majority of Republicans and overwhelming numbers of independents. 91% of Democrats disapprove, 78% of independents disapprove, and 45% of Republicans disapprove of Bush on Iraq.
70% of Californians oppose the Bush “surge” strategy for Iraq, with 26% in support. Few expect a successful outcome in Iraq, with only 31% expecting a stable democratic government there, so perhaps it is not surprising that 69% now say it was a mistake for the US to invade Iraq. That’s up from 62% a year ago.
Meanwhile, in sharp contrast to their negative assessment of the national scene, Californians are upbeat about the California scene. 55% think California is headed in the right direction. 58% approve of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s performance, making him twice as popular as the president. That’s an 18-point increase for the former action superstar from a year ago, 11 points from the fall.
Even the Legislature is up to a fairly respectable institutional level, with 40% approval as an institution, much higher than in the past. That’s because 62% expect last year’s cooperation between the governor and the Legislature to continue.
Schwarzenegger’s policies are generally very popular. 76% approve of his latest anti-greenhouse effect effort, a new low carbon standard for motor fuels. 63% support his call for another $43 billion in infrastructure spending. 71% say they support his comprehensive health care plan — which includes employer mandates to offer health insurance or pay into a state insurance pool — including 68% of independents and a noteworthy 55% of Republicans. There’s even greater support for universal health care for children Support drops when illegal immigrants are factored in, however.
63% of Republicans approve of Schwarzenegger’s environmental policies, a sharp contrast with the criticism they receive from conservative Republican activists, bloggers, pundits, and gerrymandered legislators.
One part of Schwarzenegger’s agenda that is not favored is more spending on prisons. Most Californians are against it, despite the systems’s well-publicized crisis, preferring that money go to other concerns such as education or reducing debt.
The PPIC poll of some 2000, conducted by PPIC chief Mark Baldassare, was taken between January 11th and January 18th.