New poll gives early look at races for California governor and U.S. Senate

The hot-button issues for Californians heading to the ballot box next year will be economic and state-centric, according to the latest USC Dornsife/L.A. Times Poll. When asked what the most important problem today was, 22 percent cited the high cost of living and housing availability, while another 10 percent picked jobs and the economy. Only 7 percent chose immigrants or illegal immigrants, and 5 percent pointed to problems with President Trump. Further, despite a recently proposed ballot measure that would roll back certain criminal justice reforms, only 2 percent cited crime as the most important problem today.

Overall, 44.3 percent of registered voters believe California is on the right track, and 55.7 percent believe it’s on the wrong track. The poll also shows that criticism of the recent gas tax hike may resonate at the ballot box. Of registered voters surveyed, only 45.8 percent would keep the gas tax, while 54.2 percent want it canceled.

Here are a few other insights from the poll:

Newsom strong favorite for governor

Democratic Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom currently has a commanding lead in the race to replace Gov. Jerry Brown, with 31.1 percent of voters backing him. Former Democratic mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa is in second with 20.7 percent of the vote, and Assemblyman Travis Allen leads the Republican field with 15 percent. Rounding out the top five is Democratic Treasurer John Chiang with 12 percent and Republican businessman John Cox with 11.4 percent.

However, despite the majority of registered voters believing the state is on the wrong track, a slim majority of 50.4 percent would like their next governor to continue Brown’s policies, with 49.6 percent wanting a change.

Feinstein re-election likely

In a two-way race between Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and Democratic State Senate President pro Tem Kevin de Leon, 58.2 percent would support the incumbent senator while 31.4 percent would support de Leon. In a three-way race between Feinstein, de Leon and progressive businessman Tom Steyer, the figures are, respectively, 49.7 percent, 24 percent and 17.2 percent.

Californians at odds with Trump

Only 22.3 percent of the state approves of the job President Trump is doing, with 66.2 disapproving. In comparison, Gov. Brown has a net approval of 44.6 percent, with 34.9 disapproving. When it comes to his administration, the president fairs a bit better: 25.8 percent agree with some or all of his policies and 61.2 percent disagree with some or all of them.

Consequently, when asked if their member of Congress should work with the president whenever possible, only 46.7 percent said yes, with the remainder wanting their representatives to never cooperate.

Immigration has broad support

When asked about those who come to America without a visa or overstay one, 64.4 percent believe they strengthen the economy, while 39.6 percent believe they take jobs from citizens. Only 35.9 percent believes this population increases crime, while an overwhelming majority – 64.1 percent – believe these people help revitalize cities. Just 20.5 percent believe they come for a handout, while 79.5 percent believe they want to work.

Finally, when it comes to policy, 60.1 percent of registered voters do not want California to cooperate with the president’s immigration policies while 39.9 percent want the state to cooperate.

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