Poll: Drought Has Californians Worried About State’s Future

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California’s record drought is dampening residents’ outlook on the future of their state.

According to the results of the latest Field Poll, just 40% of registered voters in California believe the state is moving in the right direction, while another 40% believe it is “off on the wrong track.” In February, 50% said they were optimistic about the state’s future, while 41% said it was “on the wrong track.”

Unsurprisingly, Democrats hold a more favorable view of the state (56% “right direction” to 28% “wrong track”) than Republicans (58% “wrong track” to 22% “right direction”). But Democrat optimism has dropped steeply since February, when 73% of registered voters said the state was on the right track and just 16% said it was not.

Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll, told the Sacramento Bee that despite a projected budget surplus and a growing economy, the state’s battle against a brutal four-year-long drought has deepened anxieties across political lines.

“It’s what everybody is talking about,” DiCamillo told the paper. “Voters are very worried about the water situation and what implications it will have on everything from their own lives, to future growth and development to the overall economy.”

Californians’ optimism also varies by region; according to the poll results, 58% of voters living in inland counties think the state is headed for trouble, while 25% believe it is on the right track. In the more populous coastal communities, 45% think the state is headed in the right direction while 33% believe it is not.

Perhaps the most peculiar finding in the latest poll is that Gov. Jerry Brown’s approval ratings almost match his second-term high; 58% of the state’s registered voters approve of the governor’s job performance, while just 28% disapprove. The 58% approval rating just barely misses the high mark of 59% the governor recorded in April 2014.

Even weirder: Republican approval of the governor’s job performance increased from 27% in February, to 37% in May. Democrat support held steady at 75% and those with no party affiliation approve of the governor’s performance by a two-to-one margin.

Brown’s high marks become less surprising when taken together with the results of another Field Poll released last week, which showed that Californians overwhelmingly support the governor’s order for a 25% mandatory statewide cutback in urban water use, by a three-to-one margin.

The latest Field Poll also found the state divided on the performance of the Democrat-controlled state Legislature, with 37% approval, 38% disapproval and 25% offering no opinion.

View the full results of the Field Poll here.