Poll: Half of state’s residents still want more green action
SACRAMENTO (AP) — For all of California’s high-profile actions on global warming, the state still isn’t doing enough to protect the environment in the eyes of nearly half its residents.
Californians also have cooled to the environmental leadership of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. His approval rating on that issue slipped eight points since January to 47 percent, according to a poll released Wednesday by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. His job approval rating dropped six points to 52 percent.
Polling began June 28, just as top state air quality officials were accusing Schwarzenegger’s aides of working behind the scenes to undermine California’s landmark global warming law.
That probably contributed to Schwarzenegger’s lower environmental ratings, PPIC pollster Mark Baldassare said.
Still, he said he was surprised at how little credit many Californians are giving their leaders, given the state’s pioneering laws. California is the first state in the nation to cap the gases thought to cause global warming.
Forty-nine percent of residents said state government is not doing enough on the environment; 36 percent said it was doing just enough; and 9 percent said it was doing more than enough.
Baldassare said the sense that the state’s efforts are lacking may stem from the frustration with the federal government on the issue. Two out of three residents are dissatisfied with its response.
“In the absence of the federal government’s making progress, there’s even more pressure on state government to do more than they’ve already done,” Baldassare said.
He said the federal government’s inaction on global warming, despite a swell of publicity that its ill effects can already be felt, is fueling the public’s sense that not enough is being done. Two-thirds of those polled said they believe global warming has begun.
Aaron McLear, a spokesman for the governor, said California’s environmental initiatives “are being replicated all over the world.” He said Schwarzenegger would keep working to make sure California stays in the lead.
But Californians are losing confidence that the governor and the Legislature can work together. Baldassare attributed this to a lack of action on health care reform – the governor’s priority for the year – the air board spat and the deadlocked state budget.
Last month, just 49 percent of residents said they thought the governor and lawmakers would accomplish a lot this year, according to another recent poll by the institute. That’s a 13-point drop since January.
“Now, we’ve gone back to business as usual,” Baldassare said, describing voters’ impressions of what is happening in Sacramento. “Californians are really at a point where they are very easily led to believe that government is not working for them.”
When it comes to presidential politics, the environment also will play an important role, although the poll found that was much more true for Democrats than Republicans. Seventy percent of Democrats but only 34 percent of Republicans said candidates’ positions on the environment were very important to them. Among independents, it was 52 percent.
The telephone survey of 2,500 California residents was conducted from June 28 to July 15 in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Korean. It has a sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.