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Poll: Californians Back Obamacare And Dreamers, But Not Single-Payer

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

An attendee carries a sign in support of "Dreamers" at a Sacramento State event on September 18, 2017.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Majorities of Californians want to protect immigrant children brought to the U.S. illegally and improve the Affordable Care Act – but oppose the creation of a national single-payer health care system.
 
Those are the headlines from a newly-released Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll.
 
There’s broad support in California for the children of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally: 77 percent of likely voters – and even 57 percent of likely Republican voters – favor protections for “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) recipients.
 
“It’s always surprising in polling about national issues when you see consensus across party lines,” says PPIC’s Mark Baldassare. “It’s indicative of just what we also find in our poll, consistently, very strong support for immigrants and also for immigrant rights.”
 
Californians appear to be staking out positions on health care that are left of center – but not too far left.
 
The Affordable Care Act draws a 58 percent favorable opinion from likely voters, and the same percentage believes congressional Republicans should work with Democrats to improve health care. That’s compared to 20 percent of likely voters (and half of Republicans) who want the GOP to keep working to pass its own health care plan, and another 21 percent who want Republicans to leave health care behind and move on to other issues entirely.
 
“I think that overall, sentiment is, what we have (is) not perfect – can use improvements – but (it’s) better than the alternatives that we’re seeing out there,” Baldassare says.
 
Indeed, just 32 percent of likely voters – and only 45 percent of Democrats – favor a government-run “single-payer” national health care system. In contrast, 28 percent of likely voters (and 35 percent of Democrats) prefer that health care be provided by a mix of private insurance companies and government programs, and 37 percent of likely voters – including 73 percent of Republicans – believe it’s not government’s responsibility to provide health care at all.
 
“Most Californians support the government being involved in health care, providing a path for health care for Americans,” Baldassare says. “But when given the choice between the system we have and changing to a different system, people are divided.”
 
President Trump’s approval rating stands at just 27 percent. (Among likely voters, it’s 31 percent). He still has relatively strong support from his base, even in California: 69 percent of likely Republican voters say they approve of the job he’s doing. However, that’s down slightly from a high of 74 percent earlier this year. And it’s lower than his national approval rating among Republicans: Gallop’s daily tracking poll currently pegs Trump’s GOP support at 82 percent.
 
The president’s approval rating tracks with results when respondents were asked whether they favor or oppose building a border wall: 31 percent of likely voters and 69 percent of likely Republican voters support the wall. There’s even a direct correlation among Democrats: Nine percent approve of the president’s job performance, while 10 percent back the wall.
 
The poll also brought back some contradictory results.
 
For example, there’s mixed news for Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who’s considering whether to run for a fifth full term next year. While 54 percent of likely voters approve of her job performance, half say she shouldn’t run again. Of course, three-quarters of Republicans don’t want her to run, so perhaps that finding should be taken with a grain of salt.
 
And one of the poll’s more intriguing findings centers around termed-out Gov. Jerry Brown and the race to replace him in 2018. While Brown's approval rating remains strong (55 percent), 49% of likely voters would rather see the next governor "mostly change" Brown's policies to different ones. Just 43 percent favor the continuation of Brown’s agenda. Again, that's inflated by 86 percent of Republicans wanting change. But independent voters also prefer change by a 56-39 percent margin. That suggests the “change” theme could come to dominate the 2018 gubernatorial campaign.
 
“I think it’s entirely possible that change means different things to different people on the political spectrum,” Baldassare says.
 
Republicans, who represent about a quarter of the electorate in California, generally oppose both Brown and Feinstein.
 
But for Democrats and independents, Baldassare says, “people are on the one hand happy with the leadership that they’ve seen in Sacramento but also wouldn’t mind seeing some change” next year in response to President Trump and the Republican Congress.

 Election 2018

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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