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USC College/Los Angeles Times Press Release

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Voters Favor Spending Cuts — and Increased Spending

Majority support retaining or increasing funding for K-12 education; cutting state prison budget


Media Contact: Suzanne Wu at (213) 740-0252 or suzanne.wu@usc.edu
 

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — November 18, 2010 — Californians consider protecting health care and education the top policy priority for governor-elect Jerry Brown, who will lead a state in which 78 percent of midterm voters believe that “things have gotten seriously off track,” according to the latest USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences/Los Angeles Times Poll.

The post-election USC College/Los Angeles Times Poll, conducted Nov. 3-14, surveyed 1,689 registered voters in California and 1,457 people who voted in the 2010 midterm election, with a margin of error +/- 2.4 points for the overall sample. The November survey included significant oversamples of Latino and Asian American voters — fast-growing groups that together currently comprise 25 percent of California’s voters.

A majority of Asian American and Latino voters said they thought protecting health care and education should be a top priority for Brown, 52 percent and 51 percent, respectively. Overall, protecting health care and education was the top policy priority for 42 percent of all 2010 midterm voters followed by cutting state spending, a top policy priority for 33 percent of voters.

However, an overwhelming majority, 70 percent, of all 2010 midterm voters did not support cutting spending to California’s K-12 schools, which accounts for almost 42 percent of state general fund spending. Indeed, 33 percent thought that California should increase spending to K-12 schools.

“When it comes to the budget, Californians have inconsistent goals,” said Darry Sragow, interim director of the USC College/Los Angeles Times Poll and adjunct assistant professor of political science at USC. “They prefer spending cuts over increasing taxes, but oppose cuts in the services that make up the largest proportion of the state budget."

California voters also were in favor of retaining or increasing spending on health care for children and low-to-moderate income families. Sixty-seven percent of 2010 voters did not support cutting funding to health care, compared to 37 percent who thought that California should cut health care spending “a lot” or “a little” in order to reduce the budget deficit.

A majority of the state’s voters supported cutting costs to state prisons, which currently account for about 11 percent of the California budget. Seventy-one percent of voters supported cutting prison expenditures, and 20 percent thought prison expenditures should stay the same or increase.

Voters were about evenly split on whether transportation, roads and rail should receive more funding in California. Forty-nine percent of 2010 voters thought funding in this area should be cut, compared to 45 percent who believed funding should stay the same or increase.

When asked whether they would prefer reduction in the budget deficit to come more from spending cuts or from tax increases, 44 percent of California’s midterm voters said they favored spending cuts to reduce the state deficit. Six percent supported tax increases, and 44 percent favored a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.

More about California's Asian American voters and Latino voters will be released tomorrow in the Los Angeles Times and in a phone conference at 9:30 a.m. PST with political analysts from the University of Southern California, the Los Angeles Times, Latino Decisions, and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. Domestic call-in number: (800) 553-0273.

The survey of Asian American voters — who were interviewed in five Asian languages as well as English — is one of the largest and most representative samples of California’s Asian American voters ever conducted, and was supported by a grant from the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. The bilingual survey of Latino voters was conducted on behalf of the USC College/Los Angeles Times Poll by Latino Decisions and supported by the California Community Foundation.

The USC College/Los Angeles Times Poll is the largest statewide poll of voters in California. The most recent poll conducted November 3-14, 2010 interviewed 1,689 registered California voters with a margin of error for the overall sample of +/- 2.4 points.


About the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences/Los Angeles Times Poll: The USC College/Los Angeles Times Poll project is a series of six statewide public opinion polls that began November 8, 2009, and continued throughout California’s crucial 2010 elections for governor and U.S. Senate.

These polls are taken at regular intervals and will be designed to survey California residents’ attitudes on a wide range of political, policy, social and cultural issues to better inform the public and to encourage discourse on key political and policy issues.

The November poll was conducted for the Los Angeles Times and USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences by Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner in conjunction with Republican polling firm American Viewpoint.


About USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences: USC College of Letters, Art & Sciences is the university’s primary center for research and education in the natural sciences, humanities and social sciences. The largest of USC’s 19 academic schools, USC College is composed of more than 30 academic departments and more than 20 Ph.D. programs, and is home to more than two dozen research centers and institutes.


About the Los Angeles Times: The Los Angeles Times is the largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the country, with a daily readership of 2 million and 3 million on Sunday, and a combined print and interactive local weekly audience of 4.5 million. The fast-growing latimes.com draws over 10 million unique visitors monthly.