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Majority of Californians dissatisfied with economy

USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll shows Bay Area residents have mostly positive feelings about the economy, Inland Empire lags

Six in 10 California voters say they are dissatisfied with the state of the economy in California, although outlooks vary widely among voters in different parts of the state, according to the results according to a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll conducted by SurveyMonkey.

Residents in the booming Bay Area were much more positive about the California economy than those in other regions: More than half of voters (52 percent) said they were satisfied with the overall economic situation, followed by 45 percent of voters in Los Angeles County, the poll showed. Residents elsewhere had a much more pessimistic view: Just 32 percent of voters in the Central Valley, 33 percent in Orange County/San Diego and 21 percent in the Inland Empire reported feeling satisfied with the state’s economic situation.

Asked about the way the economy has changed in the country over the past few years, 63 percent of California voters said they were “mainly worried,” as opposed to 35 percent who reported feeling “mainly hopeful.”

Inland Empire residents were most likely to feel worried about changes in the economy (75 percent), followed by the Central Valley (69 percent), Orange County/San Diego (65 percent), Los Angeles (62 percent) and the Bay Area (52 percent).

Californians who live in the eastern part of the state tend to have less education and lower incomes, so it’s no surprise that they are much less satisfied with the economy as well.

Dan Schnur

“Coastal and inland California have become two increasingly different states – economically, culturally and philosophically,” said Dan Schnur, director of USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics. “Californians who live in the eastern part of the state tend to have less education and lower incomes, so it’s no surprise that they are much less satisfied with the economy as well.”

Voters with more education and higher incomes were also far more hopeful. Among white voters, 70 percent of those without a college education said they were “mainly worried,” as compared to 58 percent of college-goers. Anxiety levels were slightly lower among non-white voters: 67 percent of non-college-educated voters felt mostly worried, as compared to 48 percent of those who had attended college, according to the poll.

In a political comparison, residents’ outlooks on the economy diverged significantly: 76 percent of Republican voters were mainly worried about the economic changes, compared to 51 percent of Democratic voters.

Younger voters, Latinos more optimistic about their economic prospects

Despite the variations in economic sentiment, California voters were more evenly split when asked about their own personal financial futures. Fifty-three percent said they were “very” or “somewhat hopeful” about their personal finances in the next few years, as opposed to 47 percent who said they were “somewhat” or “very anxious,” the poll showed.

Younger voters and Latinos were also more optimistic about their own financial futures, the poll showed. Among Latinos, 57 percent said they felt hopeful about their future personal finances, as opposed to 48 percent of white voters.

Generational differences in attitudes were apparent. Among those aged 18-29, 53 percent said they felt hopeful, as opposed to 47 percent of those aged 65 or older.

When voters were asked to describe their family’s current financial situation, a strong majority (57 percent) said they have just enough money to maintain their standard of living, the poll showed. Twenty-two percent said they were “getting ahead financially” while 19 percent said they were “falling behind financially.”

Among white voters, 54 percent said they were maintaining their current financial situation, 26 percent said they were getting ahead and 20 percent said they were falling behind. Among Latinos, 66 percent said they were maintaining their standard of living, 18 percent said they were falling behind and 16 percent said they were getting ahead.

Among younger voters aged 18-29, 64 percent were maintaining their standard of living, 20 percent were getting ahead and 17 percent were falling behind. Among voters 65 and older, 53 percent kept up their current standard of living, while 28 percent said they were getting ahead and 17 percent said they were falling behind.

Once again, we see that the youngest Californians and the newest Californians are the most optimistic about our state’s future and the engine that drives us forward.

Dan Schnur

“We have been doing this poll with the LA Times for six years now, and from the very beginning we have seen a common theme that reminds us of the importance of California’s diversity,” Schnur said. “Once again, we see that the youngest Californians and the newest Californians are the most optimistic about our state’s future and the engine that drives us forward.

“When California succeeds, it’s because we provide our newest and youngest residents with the tools they need to succeed and lead us to a better future.”


The USC Dornsife/LA Times SurveyMonkey Poll survey was conducted Oct. 29–Nov. 3 among 2,009 registered voters in California and an additional national sample of 3,035 registered voters in the United States. Error estimates for this survey are +/- 3 percentage points for California registered voters and +/- 2.5 percentage points for registered voters in the United States.

Respondents for this non-probability survey were selected using an algorithm from among the 3 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. Data for the survey – which also included interviews with adults not registered to vote – have been weighted for gender, age, race, education, and region using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic compositions of California and the United States.

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Majority of Californians dissatisfied with economy

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