Main content start
Center News

Hoover Golden State Poll: Californians aren't fond of the Trump agenda but aren't interested in seceding from the U.S.

As Donald Trump prepares for his swearing-in as the nation’s 45th president, a new survey by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University shows that most Californians aren’t in line with several key proposals that could impact the entire country.

Hoover’s Golden State Poll, administered by the survey research firm YouGov and designed in conjunction with Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the American West, finds Californians bearish on Trump’s prospects – 36 percent believe he’ll succeed; 46 percent say he won’t.

While a majority of survey respondents (55 percent) favor lowering personal income taxes, other aspects of the Trump agenda are far less popular.

  • 48 percent of Californians believe the state would be worse off if the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, is repealed while 34 percent said it would be better off with repeal.
  • 45 percent of the respondents said Californians would be worse off with a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico while 35 percent said the state would be better off with the wall.

Other facets of the Trump agenda were above water, but not overwhelmingly so. Forty-one percent of survey respondents see ending what Trump has labeled “unfair trade practices” as a California net-positive, with 35 percent taking the opposite view. Forty percent see school vouchers for low-income kids as a positive; 29 percent believe vouchers are detrimental. For full poll results, go to Hoover Golden State Poll.

“The numbers aren’t a surprise given that Donald Trump was the least popular presidential candidate in California since the Great Depression and (Franklin Roosevelt’s) re-election,” said Bill Whalen, a Hoover research fellow who studies California and national politics. “What does stand out: despite other attitudinal shifts since the election, any warmer feelings about Trump haven’t touched the Golden State.”

The survey exposes deep partisan divides within California and evidence of Trump as a polarizing influence.

While 76 percent of California Republicans believe Trump will have a successful presidency, only 15 percent of Democrats and 35 percent of independents agree.

On the border wall, 72 percent of respondents who voted for Hillary Clinton believe California will be worse off if it is built while only 7 percent of Trump supporters agree.

Trump serves as a lightning rod for another immigration topic – the “sanctuary” policy that some California cities have initiated. Asked whether or not they support or oppose sanctuary cities in the United States, 40 percent of respondents said they are supportive while 41 percent oppose.

When informed that Trump opposes sanctuary cities, the percent of respondents who oppose the policy fell from 41 to 37 percent.

Despite their differences with Trump, Californians don’t necessarily want a “divorce.” By a two-to-one margin (54 percent to 27 percent), the survey’s respondents opposed the so-called “Calexit” secession movement. Only 30 percent of Democrats, 33 percent of 2016 Clinton voters and 41 percent of self-identified liberals went along with the concept.

“Despite fairly extensive coverage about California seceding from the U.S., the polling evidence clearly indicates that most Californians oppose it across party, ideology, income, race and support for presidential candidate,” said Bruce Cain, a Stanford University political scientist and the Spence and Cleone Eccles Family Director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West. “In short, the proposal is D.O.A. Californians will instead remain and resist.”

As it has for the last three years, the January Golden State Poll asked Californians about their confidence in their state and their governor.

The short answer: business as usual.

Forty-four percent of respondents see California as a model for other states (up from 39 percent a year ago) while 31 percent see things as a little or a lot better in the state compared with a year ago (up from 27 percent).

As for Gov. Jerry Brown, now in his penultimate year in office, the survey showed little change from a year ago. A majority of Californians again approve of his handling of the drought (54 percent) and economic growth (53 percent). Where Brown’s vulnerable: transportation (39 percent approval). Brown is expected to showcase the topic in next week’s State of the State Address.

Finally, the Golden State Poll asked Californians to prioritize their issue concerns. The same two topics – strengthening the economy (62 percent) and water (61 percent) – dominated, though in reverse order and by smaller percentages than in previous years. As in 2016, income inequality and prisons were at the bottom of the menu.

The January 2017 issue of Eureka, a Hoover Institution online publication focusing on policy, political and economic issues confronting California, was released in conjunction with the survey.

The issue focuses on the impact of the Trump presidency on California, including an examination of the state’s ideological divide, how to smartly redesign health care, and possible avenues for pursuing sanctuary-law changes. In addition, Hoover research fellow Tammy Frisby offers an in-depth analysis of the survey’s results.

The Hoover Institution Golden State Poll is conducted quarterly by researchers at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, in partnership with the survey research firm YouGov. The May 2016 Hoover investigators are: Tammy Frisby, PhD; and Bill Whalen, with further guidance provided by Bruce Cain, PhD, the Spence and Cleone Eccles Family Director of Stanford University’s Bill Lane Center for the American West.

Recent Center News

Heat’s worsening impact on Californians; pollution in Vancouver’s once-pristine waters; the invasive plant spreading like wildfire across Arizona; local governments rushing for climate funding; documenting biodiversity on both sides of the border wall, and other recent environmental news from around the West.
Across the American West, influencers— both people in search of the ultimate selfie and promoters of park landscapes—broadcast their experiences to tens of thousands of followers. But at what cost to parks?
Stanford economist Paul Milgrom won a Nobel Prize in part for his role in enabling today’s mobile world. Now he’s tackling a different 21st century challenge: water scarcity.