Water Seen as Most Important Environmental Issue in Recent Public Policy Institute Survey

By on August 11, 2018

According to a recent Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) survey, drought and water supply have been identified as the most frequently named topic when likely voters are asked about the most important environmental issue facing the state today (24%). Although the proportion of likely voters expressing this view has dropped sharply in the last two years – 24 percent now versus 43 percent in July 2016 – water and drought still top the list.

Californians will vote on an $8.9 billion bond measure, Proposition 3, in November, on whether to fund additional water infrastructure projects. The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA)-supported Proposition 3 shows a majority of likely voters (58 percent) plan to vote yes and a quarter (25 percent intend to vote no while 17 percent remain undecided according to the PPIC survey.

“The drought and water shortages are still on Californians’ minds,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “They seem willing to support a water bond on the November ballot after passing a multibillion-dollar water bond measure in June.”

Likely November voters say the supply of water is a big problem, ranging from 60 percent to at least somewhat of a problem for 25 percent of voters depending on water availability in their part of California. Across regions, Orange/San Diego residents (55 percent) are the most likely to say the water supply is a big problem where they live, while San Francisco Bay Area residents (43 percent) are the least likely to say so.

Environmental issues and a candidates’ position on them are important factors in determining voter’s preferences in the governor’s race according to the PPIC survey. A majority of likely voters (56 percent) say the candidates’ environmental positions are very important in determining their votes—the largest share to express this view since PPIC first asked likely voters the question in 2006 (44 percent). Another third of prospective voters (31 percent) say candidate positions on the environment are somewhat important.

The most recent PPIC Statewide Survey is based on interviews conducted from July 8–17, 2018 in English or Spanish according to respondents’ preferences. Findings are based on a telephone survey of 1,711 California adult residents, including 1,198 interviewed on cell phones and 513 interviewed on landline telephones. The sampling error, taking design effects from weighting into consideration, is ±3.4 percent for all adults, ±3.6 percent for the 1,420 registered voters, and ±4.3 percent for the 1,020 likely voters.

The PPIC survey was conducted funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation, the Flora Family Foundation and the Heising-Simons Foundation. PPIC is a public charity dedicated to informing and improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research.