Crime, Homelessness Emerge as California Democrats’ Weak Spots

Crime and homelessness are the two issues on which California Democrats are most vulnerable heading into the 2022 elections, according to a Tuesday poll from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies and the Los Angeles Times. Underscoring the political risk: a drumbeat of recent headlines on brutal crimes and attacks allegedly committed by homeless individuals.

The survey’s findings were especially grim for Gov. Gavin Newsom: 48% of registered voters said they approve of his overall performance as governor, while 47% disapprove. That’s a marked increase in criticism from September 2021, when 50% approved of the governor and 42% disapproved — and Newsom overwhelmingly defeated an attempt to recall him from office.

The Tuesday survey found that disapproval of Newsom’s job performance is rising among key voter blocs, including Democrats, strong liberals, moderates, Los Angeles County voters, Latinos and Asian Americans.

Voters also gave Newsom low marks for handling eight out of ten major issues facing the state, with 66% rating his response to homelessness as “poor” or “very poor” and 51% saying the same about his approach to crime and public safety.

Ultimately, though, the governor’s declining approval rate will likely have a negligible impact on his reelection prospects. With the June primary less than four months away, Newsom’s most serious challenger so far is GOP state Sen. Brian Dahle of Bieber, who acknowledged that running against an incumbent with a $25 million campaign war chest is like “David versus Goliath.”

But voters’ clear dissatisfaction with the status quo could pose challenges for Democrats running in competitive, newly redrawn districts — and sway the outcome of high-profile races, such as for mayor of Los Angeles. According to the UC Berkeley survey:

  • 78% of registered voters said crime has increased over the past year, and 65% said it’s worsened in their local areas.
  • 59% said they would support amending Prop. 47, a 2014 ballot measure that reclassified some theft and drug felonies as misdemeanors.
  • 54% believe California is on the wrong track, a 9-point increase from May 2021.

Many California Democrats — including Newsom — have already begun to embrace tough-on-crime rhetoric. (Here’s the CalMatters explainer on the state’s crime numbers.)

On Tuesday, Democratic Assemblymember Rudy Salas of Bakersfield — who’s running for a U.S. House of Representatives seat currently held by a Republican — unveiled a proposal to funnel $50 million into hiring police officers who agree to live and work in underserved communities with high rates of violent crime. Salas in January also introduced a bill to reverse a key aspect of Prop. 47.

Emily Hoeven is a reporter with CalMatters.


  1. and the systematic racism embedded in public K-12 evidenced by an intractable achievement gap perpetrated by the political juggernaut that is the teacher’s union and the corrupt state dep of education.

    and the systematic racism inherent in its third world level GINI scores, most evident in the Bay Area – the Progressive Mecca

    and its outrageously regressive taxation system – both sales and gas taxes

    and its outrageously high housing costs, both ownership and rental, most evident in the Bay Area – the Progressive Mecca

    and its needless assault on small business – most evident by the Progressive Wing of the San Jose City Council

    crime and homelessness shouldn’t even crack the top five

  2. This is something New?
    After years of One-Party Failed Progressive Policies….
    Destroying CA… and the cancer is spreading.

    ..” If a government as large & well-financed as CA hasn’t solved the problems of poverty & homelessness, and in many ways Only Make the Problems Worse, then Maybe Bigger (One-Party) Government isn’t the solution. ”

    “Guess which state has the highest poverty rate in the country?
    Not Mississippi, New Mexico, or West Virginia,
    but California,
    where nearly 1 out of 5 residents is poor. ”

    A Poverty Rate of 19% – roughly 8 million residents live in poverty… another 8 million are barely above poverty level.

    CA where 1 in 3 of the nation’s Welfare recipients call home.
    – CA spends far more on Welfare than any other state – in fact, at $103 billion a year, more than #2 New York and #3 Texas combined.

    CA Leads in Highest Homeless Population.
    “..Homeless population in CA is over 132,000 or 21% of US Nationwide – it leads in HIGHEST homeless population.”

    “CA attracts more ILLEGAL aliens than any other state at a high cost,
    estimated at over $30 billion in welfare programs. ”
    – Nearly 1/3 of all Welfare Spending.

    “CA was ranked 47th in median annual household income…”
    DEM policies of over-regulation have
    “..driven out manufacturing & production (jobs), replaced with high tech and service jobs,
    and established a part time economy, with a Massive Welfare System.”

    And that budget surplus doesn’t come near to covering the pension liabilities that CA Politicians promises to it’s Bloated Bureaucracy in union patronage to get re-elected.
    “California ranked 5th worst in the nation based on most fiscally solvent states..”

    CA dependent on the fortunes of a handful of super wealthy patrons and the stock market.
    “Just 1% of Income Taxpayers, about 150,000 families in a state of 40 million people,
    account for nearly 50% of Income Taxes”

    Is it any wonder Elon Musk (and many other businesses)
    said “Bye, Bye” to High Taxes and Overregulation and
    moved Tesla HQ & new manufacturing to Texas?

    CA Needs NEW Leadership…. Responsible Leadership.

  3. Watch how fast all of the Democrats change from defund the police and de-incarceration to being “tough on crime.”

    What a bunch of hypocrites. These people will say or do anything to gain power. Politicians, particularly Democrat politicians, are like baby diapers. They need changing often and for the same reason.

  4. “Crime, Homelessness Emerge as California Democrats’ Weak Spots”

    You mean the foundation of the democratic party principles’ of being pro-crime and pro-drugs isn’t popular despite what they were told by a vocal fringe minority?

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