CalChamber Survey: California Voters Cite Roads, Jobs, Housing as Top Concerns


The Second Annual CalChamber Survey, released last week, indicates that the state’s voters believe there are some homegrown issues that deserve the attention of California legislators.

Among the top priorities for voters are fixing transportation systems, improving job creation, and addressing high housing costs.

Given a choice among about 20 issues, nearly 9 in 10 voters believe that Sacramento officials are not spending enough time on fixing roads, highways and bridges in California.

Eight in 10 voters believe state leaders should be working harder to encourage economic development to attract new businesses to California, and about three-quarters of voters want to see more attention paid to addressing high housing costs.

On the other hand, a majority of voters believe state elected officials are spending too much time providing tax credits to purchase electric cars (53%) and completing high speed rail (64%).


Voters continue to give low marks to transportation infrastructure. Fully 42% believe the repair and maintenance of roads, highways and bridges is poor, and another 37% believe their condition is only fair. Only 1 in 5 voters rate transportation conditions as good (15%) or excellent (5%).

But even considering their poor perception of road and highway conditions, only 20% of voters believe additional funds are needed to address road maintenance issues, while 80% believe current funds need to be managed better.

Housing issues also preoccupy California voters.

Among voters with children living at home, two-thirds believe their kids’ generation will have a harder time purchasing their first home in California compared to their parents’ generation. Only a third of parents thought home purchase would be easier.

And while a majority of voters agree that state leaders should be addressing global warming, a strong majority (56%) opposes new greenhouse gas reduction standards on new housing developments that would add significant costs to the price of housing.

Though approaching its 40th anniversary, Proposition 13 remains remarkably popular. Voters have a favorable view of Proposition 13 by a 4 to 1 margin, regardless of voters’ age, location, gender or income. Even the least supportive group—Democrats—favor Proposition 13 by a 3 to 1 margin.


California voters maintain their historic strong allegiance to environmental protection.

In ranking resource and environmental issues, more than 4 in 10 voters chose drought relief and prevention as the top priority for the California Legislature. Ensuring safe drinking water ranked second with 18% of voters, followed by encouraging green energy sources (13%), improving air quality (8%), protecting parks and wildlife (5%), limiting fracking (5%), and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (4%).

Drought concerns are top of mind for California voters. Three out of 4 voters believe the Legislature is not spending enough time dealing with the drought. By a similar margin (77%), voters say the drought represents “a new reality for California,” as opposed to only a “short-term problem.” This concern has only increased over the past year.

Economic Future

Californians are still insecure about California’s economic future. Of voters with children living at home, nearly 6 in 10 agree that “my children will have a better future if they leave California.”

Californians are also strongly worried that middle class lifestyle is becoming almost impossible. Voters consistently and overwhelmingly agree that “earning enough income to enjoy a middle class lifestyle is becoming almost impossible in my part of California.” Statewide, 87% of voters agreed with that statement, as did voters in the San Francisco Bay Area (86%), Los Angeles (87%), Orange/San Diego (78%), Central Valley (88%), and Inland Empire (87%).

Job Creation

And while the San Francisco Bay Area enjoys new job creation, much of the rest of the state views a different reality.

Asked to describe job creation in their part of the state, 69% of voters in the Bay Area and 54% in Los Angeles thought “a lot” or “some” new jobs were being created, while voters thought “not many” or “almost no” jobs were being created in Orange/San Diego (58%), Inland Empire (63%) or the Central Valley (68%).

A similar geographic profile is evident when drilling down into this issue. For those voters who agreed that “a lot” or “some new” jobs were being created in their part of California, regional differences arose on the nature of those jobs.

Voters statewide were evenly split as to whether the new jobs created were “dead end and not middle class” or “higher pay and middle class.”

But in the Bay Area, twice as many voters thought these jobs were high pay/middle class as thought they were dead end. Voters agreed that new jobs were dead end and not middle class in Orange/San Diego (53%), Central Valley (72%) and the Inland Empire (75%). By a slight majority (52%), Los Angeles voters thought new jobs were higher pay and middle class.

The CalChamber poll was conducted by Penn Schoen Berland with online interviews from November 15–17, 2016 among 1,000 definite California 2018 general election voters. The margin of error for this study is +/- 3.09% at the 95% confidence level, and larger for subgroups.

Contact: Loren Kaye

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Loren Kaye was appointed president of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education in January 2006. He has devoted his career to developing, analyzing and implementing public policy issues in California, with a special emphasis on improving the state's business and economic climate. He also was a gubernatorial appointee to the state's Little Hoover Commission, charged with evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of state agencies and programs. Kaye served in senior policy positions for Governors Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian, including Cabinet Secretary to the Governor and Undersecretary of the California Trade and Commerce Agency. See full bio.