Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

January 29, 2014
Poll finds Californians not thrilled with Obama, health care law

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As the federal health care overhaul continues to divide Californians, President Barack Obama's approval here plunged to a record low, according to a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California.

The president's job approval dropped to 46 percent among likely voters while state residents gave a collective shrug to the Affordable Care Act, his signature legislative achievement. Some 46 percent view the law unfavorably, 44 percent favorably.

Still, a large majority of residents say they plan to comply with the law, which requires nearly everyone to obtain insurance coverage or pay a penalty. Among the uninsured, 72 percent say they plan to acquire health insurance this year, 18 percent indicate they will not, and 9 percent remain unsure. Among those covered, 6 percent obtained it on their own, with the remainder receiving it from another source, such as their employer.

Despite California's comparatively smooth roll-out, fewer than half of the state's adult residents believe their online marketplace is working well, with the uninsured more likely to say it's not working (50 percent) than those with health care coverage (36 percent).

Covered California has struggled to attract certain demographics, namely young people and Latinos. Among racial and ethnic groups, African Americans (62 percent) were more likely than Latinos (52 percent), Asians (45 percent) and whites (39 percent) to say the program is working well.

The health care act is expected to play prominently in the midterm elections, where Republicans are harnessing disapproval for the law to retain their House majority and possibly regain control of the U.S. Senate.

While slightly more than half of the state's adults approve of their own congressional representative, likely voters are more divided: 48 percent approve and 42 percent disapprove. Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer draw the approval of 49 percent and 48 percent of likely voters, respectively.

Californians' faith in a year of action described by Obama in his State of the Union Address Tuesday appears low. Roughly 60 percent believe Obama and Congress will not be unable to work together to accomplish a lot. At the time of Obama's inauguration, more than 80 percent believed there would be successful collaboration between the executive and legislative branches.

The survey, conducted with funding from The James Irvine Foundation, is based on interviews with 1,706 adult residents from Jan. 14 to Jan. 21. The margin of error is 3.8 percent to 4.6 percent in either direction.

December 4, 2013
Californians divided on health care reform

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Californians fracture along partisan lines when asked about federal health care reform, a new Public Policy Institute of California poll finds.

While 60 percent of California Democrats reported a favorable view of the law, only 13 percent of Republicans hold that view, against a resounding 80 percent who rejected it. Independents were more mixed, with 40 percent approving, 51 percent disapproving and nine percent saying they didn't know.

The sum of those results: Californians are evenly divided on the sweeping new reordering of American health care, with an identical 44 percent supporting and backing it, according to the poll.

Those who don't have health insurance, the main demographic targeted by the law, also appeared more likely to be supportive: 50 percent of Californians lacking insurance support the law against 43 percent saying they viewed it unfavorably. Those with insurance registered an even 43-43 split.

In sharp contrast to Republican-led states that have resisted the new law, refusing to expand Medicaid or declining to set up their own health insurance exchanges, deeply Democratic California has enthusiastically forged ahead in laying the groundwork.

That has meant, among other things, that California's health insurance enrollment rates have outstripped the woeful signup numbers on the federal exchange and some state exchanges. Residents of the state are largely aware of the state exchange, named Covered California: 68 percent affirmed that a California marketplace exists, against 14 percent who said there is not a state exchange and 18 percent who said they didn't know.

PHOTO: A Sacramento State student looks at a pamphlet with information on Covered California on Thusrday, October 16, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.

September 25, 2013
Californians back prison plan but are wary of overcrowding fixes

20130918_PK_SAN QUENTIN_0037.JPGCalifornians narrowly favor Gov. Jerry Brown's new prison plan but remain anxious about the consequences of prison reform, a new Public Policy Institute of California poll finds.

When asked about the recent deal between Brown and legislative leaders, 52 percent of adults and likely voters gave their approval. The recently signed plan will spend $315 million more on prisons while asking for a three-year extension on lowering inmate numbers. Federal judges just granted the state a brief extension.

But when reflecting on the strategy of shifting lower-level inmates from state prisons to county jails, 57 percent of adults and 61 percent of likely voters said they were "not too confident" or "not at all confident" that local governments have the capacity to absorb new inmates under what's known as "realignment." In addition, more than three-quarters of the respondents -- 78 percent of adults and 77 percent of likely voters -- were either "very" or "somewhat" concerned about early prisoner releases.

The poll also gauged residents' opinions on many other issues ranging from violence to health care to marijuana.



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Capitol Alert Staff


Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. achance@sacbee.com. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee. smith@sacbee.com. Twitter: @DanielSnowSmith

Jim Miller Jim Miller covers California policy and politics and edits Capitol Alert. jmiller@sacbee.com. Twitter: @jimmiller2

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. dsiders@sacbee.com. Twitter: @davidsiders

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. ccadelago@sacbee.com. Twitter: @ccadelago

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. lrosenhall@sacbee.com. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers the Legislature. jwhite@sacbee.com. Twitter: @capitolalert

Koseff Alexei Koseff edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. akoseff@sacbee.com. Twitter: @akoseff

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. dwalters@sacbee.com. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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