A new statewide survey by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California finds most residents consider the drought, wildfires and climate change as the biggest environmental issues facing the state.
PPIC President Mark Baldessare spoke to CapRadio’s Mike Hagerty.
CapRadio: What are Californians most concerned about?
Mark Baldessare: Most people said the drought. Thirty-eight percent said the drought was the most important environmental issue, 13% mentioning wildfires and 11% mentioning climate change.
But climate change coming in third in that group suggests there might be a disconnect. They understand the connection between drought and climate change, between wildfire and climate change, but they're not as concerned about climate change. Is it a factor of the drought and fires being more immediate, more tangible?
I think the immediacy, the immediacy, the fact that so many people are saying it's a problem in the part of California that I live in today. When we mention the drought and we mention the wildfires, especially the drought right now in every region of the state, people said it's a problem in their part of California. They're facing it on a daily basis and they don't feel that they're state or local governments doing enough about that problem that they're seeing on a daily basis.
How much do these issues drought, wildfire, climate change play into how people vote here in California?
Well, you know, I think that that these are going to be issues that are center for people, especially if we go through a season of wildfires that, you know, seem to have already started in California. As we go through the fall now, and certainly the drought is not going to go away. But along with these environmental issues, many Californians today now are telling us in our polls that they're upset about inflation. A lot of negativity now and a lot of concerns about the economy in the context of people facing droughts and wildfires and realizing that, you know, climate changes is adding to their level of concern.
So is there an overall take away then, Mark? Is there a point where all this meets converges?
Right now, what we're seeing in our polling is that the governor and Legislature and their ratings on the environment are pretty good and also on the economy. The governor's rating is pretty good. But what we also saw in this poll is that many Californians do not have the favorable views of President Biden that they had, let's say, a year ago. You know, his disapproval ratings have gone down on the environment. That's consistent with what we've seen about his overall approval ratings and ratings that Congress also have declined. So I think that to the extent to which we see problems like drought, wildfires, how we're handling climate change, what are we doing about inflation, what are we doing about the economy in general, gas prices, energy, that these are going to be issues in the midterm elections, the election for people in Congress that are going to determine the future and direction at the federal level, more so than at the state level, at least based on what the polling is showing right now.
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