California Community Poll Results from Strategies 360

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The California Community Poll is an ongoing partnership between Strategies 360 and the Los Angeles Times, The Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment, Hispanas Organized for Political Equality, and the Los Angeles Urban League, covering key trends in public opinion among California residents.

Since early 2020 we have conducted six statewide polls on a range of topics including perceptions of race relations and identity, education, the pandemic, policing and more. Each survey includes oversamples of communities of color, yielding large and representative samples among African American, Latino, and Asian adults. S360 proudly shares the results of these polls below.

June 2023 Survey

The 2023 California Community Poll was the sixth statewide survey conducted by Strategies 360 in partnership with the Los Angeles Times, The Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment, Hispanas Organized for Political Equality, and the Los Angeles Urban League, covering trends in public opinion going back three years. The current survey was conducted from June 6-16, 2023 among 1354 California residents. Key findings include:

  1. Californians face deep economic anxieties. Satisfaction with the state economy has dropped 12-points since 2020, including 5-points since last year. Residents are largely dissatisfied with the cost of their healthcare, the amount they pay for their home, and the cost of everyday living expenses (18% satisfied, 81% dissatisfied). The data also suggests that Californians personally feel less financially secure than they did in previous years: only 28% of those in households making $50k-$100k annually report that they can live comfortably and save an adequate amount of money for the future, down from 54% who said the same in early 2020. Similarly, just 57% of those in households making over $100k annually say they can live comfortably and save an adequate amount of money for the future, down from 77% who said the same in early 2020.
  2. Despite the financial strain, most residents are happy living in California – and the state’s diversity is a central reason why. Robust majorities of residents across regional, demographic, and racial lines feel happy about living in California (71%), report that living in California is important to their personal identities (68%), and say California is a place where they fit in and feel comfortable (68%). The state’s diversity is a viewed as a major benefit of living here: by a 20-point margin, residents say it “brings people together around new ideas and vibrant communities” rather than creating “tension and division between groups who have different needs and priorities.” While there is no singular reason why people enjoy the experience of living here, Californians most highly value the state’s diversity along with a sense of safety/security and opportunities to do things they enjoy. The state’s diversity is the single or second-most valued attribute among Latinos, African Americans, and Asian residents alike.
  3. The inequities and challenges facing women and communities of color have not gone away. California Community Polls include tracking questions assessing a variety of metrics regarding the state of race relations, personal identity, experiences of discrimination, and societal barriers based on race. We find that high proportions of communities of color report facing regular discrimination; that African American and Latino residents are dissatisfied with their access to good schools; and that substantial proportions of communities of color say they face barriers getting jobs, being treated fairly by law enforcement, being paid a fair wage, being well-represented by elected officials and government, and getting into college. Meanwhile, over a third of women report facing regular discrimination based on their gender, including even higher proportions of younger women, African American women, and Latinas.

December 2022 Survey

The sixth iteration of the California Community Poll takes us to Los Angeles, where we examine the political environment awaiting Mayor Bass and the state of race relations in the city. The survey was conducted among registered voters by Strategies 360 between November 28th and December 12th, 2022, and includes the following key findings:

  1. Mayor Bass inherits a deeply discontent electorate, but she is well-positioned to take advantage of opportunities to overcome it. Just 39% think Los Angeles is headed in the right direction (51% wrong track). Yet voters give Mayor Bass a 47-27% favorable-unfavorable rating (62-28% among people who voted in the November 2022 election), while simultaneously delivering a 30-51% favorability rating to the city council.
  2. There is soft support for increasing the size of the city council. While a majority favors the idea in principle, that support lacks intensity and leaves the proposal vulnerable to a strong and well-funded opposition argument.
  3. Voters are going to give Mayor Bass a real chance on the city’s biggest challenges. Voters are more likely to believe that Bass’ policies will improve homelessness, housing, and the economy/income inequality than worsen these issues. Even when it comes to crime, voters are largely split rather than outright negative in their assessment of Bass.
  4. Bass takes office with a strong cross-racial coalition, and voters view her as a uniter. Bass has at least a net 15-point positive favorability rating from each of white, Black, Latino, and APA voters, and people are most bullish when it comes to the potential positive impact of her policies on race relations and bringing together L.A.’s diverse communities.
  5. When it comes to race relations, the status quo looks bleak to Angelenos – but they are receptive to a wide range of policies and actions to help make progress. Just 38% say that race relations in the city of Los Angeles are excellent or good, against 60% reporting they are just fair or poor. That stems in part from the widespread acknowledgement of the frequent discrimination faced by people from L.A.’s communities of color. At the same time, between two-thirds and 80% believe that each of eight policies and individual actions tested to improve race relations will be at least somewhat effective in doing so.

April 2022 Survey

This fifth wave of the study was conducted by Strategies 360 from April 7-18, 2022. Key findings include:

  1. Californians are less satisfied with the direction of the state than they were in 2020.
  2. Residents see a very different economic playing field for the wealthy than for middle- and working-class families.
  3. Californians believe the pandemic had a major impact on K-12 students’ mental health but express confidence in students’ ability to recover academically.
  4. Californians strongly value higher education but have serious concerns about its affordability; in that context, degrees from community colleges, skills training centers, and vocational and technical schools are increasingly appealing.
  5. Communities of color in California face high levels of discrimination and barriers across a range of aspects of life; perceptions of discrimination against communities of color, which rose dramatically in 2020, have largely sustained.
  6. Women – and especially women of color – face unique barriers and challenges in California; nearly half say they are discriminated against regularly due to their gender.


April 2021 Survey

The fourth wave of the study was conducted by Strategies 360 from April 16-29, 2021. It assesses Californians’ attitudes towards three main topics:

  1. COVID-19. Californians are largely satisfied with how the state – and Governor Newsom – have handled the coronavirus pandemic, vaccinations, and school re-opening. As concern about getting the virus begins to fade and the proportion of vaccinated residents rises, nearly 8 in 10 Californians are satisfied with how the state has handled the vaccination effort. A 56% majority of residents approve of Newsom’s overall job performance as Governor, and a plurality think businesses and schools are opening at the right pace.
  2. Race and discrimination. This poll includes a wide range of questions on race and discrimination. Among other findings, it uncovers substantial shifts in perceptions of discrimination faced by the APA community in recent months, including sizable shifts in opinion among Asian Americans themselves. The poll finds that many Californians recognize the racial implications of the recent Georgia election law and express their disapproval of it – though there is also some uncertainty about what the law does. Finally, it finds that a third of African Americans and nearly as many APAs and Latinos say their mental health has suffered because people look down on them as a result of their race/ethnicity – with even higher numbers among those under age 50.
  3. Immigration and border issues. This poll highlights the complexity surrounding issues of immigration and border policy in California. Most support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and a plurality believe immigration has a mostly positive impact on the country. Californians are divided on whether undocumented immigrants should be eligible to receive stimulus payments – but many are open to having their opinions changed on this topic. And a 55% majority have concerns about both the increase in the number of immigrants seeking asylum on the United States’ southern border as well as the treatment of those being detained at the border – these are not mutually exclusive concerns.

November 2020 Survey

The third California Community Poll was conducted in the days following the 2020 general election (November 4-15, 2020). Key findings include:

  1. Californians have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has not affected everyone equally: communities of color and low-income families are bearing the economic brunt of this virus.
  2. Relative to the summer, Californians are increasingly ideologically polarized when it comes to concerns about getting COVID and preferences toward re-opening. Self-identified liberals are as concerned and cautious as they were in July, while self-identified conservatives have become far more likely to support re-opening and less likely to be worried about getting the virus.
  3. When it comes to race and discrimination, the data suggests that the events this summer drove real and lasting changes in the way that all Californians observe and recognize discrimination in their communities. But recent debates have also widened ideological divisions regarding the interaction between law enforcement and race.
  4. California residents overwhelmingly support permanent adoption of a statewide voting system where every registered voter in the state is mailed an absentee ballot prior to the election, in addition to in-person voting locations being available.

July 2020 Survey

This survey assessed Californians’ views of education, COVID-19, race, and policing.

  1. Californians believe ‘distance learning’ had a mixed impact on the quality of education students received over the final months of the school year. Parents were more likely to see positive benefits (36%) than negative (29%).
  2. Californians divide between wanting schools to continue with full-time distance learning (37%) and wanting a partial re-opening in the fall (41%). Just 16% support a full re-opening of schools, even with social distancing guidelines in place.
  3. 81% of Californians are worried about COVID and nearly three quarters think the worst is yet to come on both health and economic measures. About half of residents have been impacted by COVID economically, with 80% of those impacted saying their financial situation has worsened.
  4. Californians think race relations in the state have worsened since the spring, but they don’t blame recent protests for it. Reactions to the protests are more positive than negative, with a majority saying they’ve brought the state closer together.
  5. Majorities of Californians believe police treat African Americans unfairly and perceive systemic racism in law enforcement; while nearly all residents support police reform, they divide on how extensive it should be.
  6. Compared to February, white Californians are more likely to believe that people of other races and ethnicities face frequent discrimination.

February 2020 Survey

View the California Community poll results on race and identity:

The first California Community Poll was conducted from February 12-19, 2020. Key findings include:

  1. At the time of this poll, fewer than a third of Californians (32%) said race relations in the country were excellent or good. Californians rated race relations more positively when thinking about the state (57% positive) and their own neighborhoods (70% positive). When it comes to their own neighborhoods, roughly two-thirds of Californians of all races described their neighborhood as diverse.
  2. Whites and non-whites reported having fundamentally different experiences when it comes to racial discrimination: 64% of African Americans reported being discriminated against because of their race, compared to 46% of Latinos, 42% of Asians, and fewer than a quarter of white adults.
  3. Eighty-four percent of African Americans and 68% of Latinos reported facing barriers being treated fairly by law enforcement – higher than the proportion of voters of other races who said they face barriers being treated fairly by law enforcement (42% of Asians and 30% of white adults).
  4. As of this survey in February, there was already widespread recognition that discrimination was a problem, with 75% of Californians believing African Americans are discriminated against frequently or sometimes, including more than seven-in-ten white Californians. Many Californians also identified discrimination against Latinos (73%), LGBTQ people (70%), women (65%), and Asians (55%).
  5. At the time of this survey, a 60% majority of Californians believed it is a bigger problem that “people are not seeing discrimination where it really DOES exist”; 40% believed it is a bigger problem in our country that “people are seeing discrimination where it really does NOT exist.” The gap was widest among African American adults, 78% of whom were more concerned about people not seeing discrimination where it does exist.