Field Poll: Californians Back Tax & Min Wage Hikes, Obamacare

Jerry Brown (Rich Pedroncelli : Associated Press)
Rich Pedroncelli : Associated Press
Newport Beach, CA

The latest non-partisan Field Poll shows that two-thirds of Californians support a $1.5 billion bump in tobacco taxes and raising the $15 minimum wage by 2021.

Consistent with California’s liberal bent, 58 percent of California voters also favor the state’s healthcare system, and support continues to moves away from personal responsibility and toward a government-run single-payer system.

With the Democrat-controlled California legislature increasingly desperate for a new tax source to make up for shrinking revenues as the Silicon Valley tech boom fades, they must be cheering results that suggest 50 percent of voters strongly support and 17 percent somewhat support more than tripling the 87-cent-per-pack tax on cigarettes. With only 19 percent strongly opposing the proposed tax, and tobacco companies cautious about financing a highly contentious stand against the Democrats, this looks like a done deal for a ballot initiative in 2016.

The Field Poll found very similar strength for raising the state’s minimum wage by a dollar a year through 2021, with 47 percent strongly favoring and 21 percent somewhat favoring the spikes. But the Democrats carrying an initiative in 2016 would undoubtedly face a well-funded and brutal public opposition campaign by business interests across the state. Although the early poll looks good for the Democrats, the state party may not want to risk a battle extraordinaire without at least 50 percent strong support going in.

The “2015 Cal Wellness–Field Health Policy Survey” also shows that four years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare”, voters are reporting higher levels of satisfaction with the way the health care system in California is working than they did before its passage. A 2008 Field Cal Wellness survey -Field Health Policy Survey, conducted two years prior to the passage of the ACA, found 50 percent of California registered voters satisfied and 46 dissatisfied with the way the state’s health care system was operating. But the satisfaction has grown over the seven years to 58 percent and dissatisfaction has plunged to 34 percent.

The poll’s results emphasize that Democrats increasingly want government health coverage over employer-backed coverage. The most telling result of the survey is the proportion of voters preferring government-provided coverage in California increased 11 points, while the proportion who favor taking personal responsibility declined by 10 points. The percent backing employer-provided coverage remained unchanged over the seven-year period.

The Field Poll is usually a very credible indicator of voter opinion in the Golden State.  The non-partisan poll was established in 1956 and relies on financial support from newspapers and television stations, the University of California, the California State University system, and other not-for-profits. Its margin of error in this survey is plus or minus 2.6 percent.