Stanford Poll: Gun Safety a Top Issue for California Voters

With the midterm elections just days away, a new poll by Stanford University scholars shows that California voters are more passionate about voting this year than in past elections. More than 83 percent of respondents say they plan to vote.

The poll, administered from Oct. 10 to 24 by the survey research firm YourGov, asked 2,178 registered voters throughout the state about their thoughts on the coming election. The margin of error: 3.1 percent, plus or minus.

When asked what policies would bring them to the polls, the most commonly stated issue was a ban on assault weapons. Fifty-eight percent of prospective voters called that form of gun control very important. And 55 percent said they support raising the minimum age to buy firearms.

Pollsters also asked what voters consider the top three problems facing California. The answers: immigration (42 percent), healthcare (40 percent), education (36 percent).

When it came to naming the single most critical issue, however, only about one in four respondents cited immigration. About one-third of voters said they support President Trump’s plan to build a wall; 56 percent opposed the plan. 

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-San Francisco) potentially faces blowback over her role in the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanagh, Stanford scholars determined.

“Possibly as a consequence of the publicity around it, the sexual harassment issue has become more salient to Californians,” Bruce Cain, the Spence and Cleone Eccles Family Director of the Bill Lane Center, told the school’s Stanford News Service. “This issue may have tightened California’s U.S. Senate race given Sen. Feinstein’s prominence in the Kavanaugh hearings.”

About 36 percent of respondents preferred Feinstein while 29 percent said they’d rather vote for fellow Dem, Kevin De León. Broken down by gender and party affiliation, more Dem men would rather vote for De León (39 percent) Dem women (27 percent).

Republicans tend to favor the male Senate candidate, too. About 27 percent said they’d vote for De León compared to 15 percent for Feinstein.

Cain noted the irony, in that Feinstein is considered more centrist than her challenger. “By the logic of the top two primary system, Republicans should prefer her to a more liberal alternative,” he said.

Party divisions can also be explained by public perceptions of the #MeToo movement. Some 28 percent of respondents said they believe the movement has reduced gender inequality while 26 percent say it’s worsened it. Twenty-eight percent said they believe it’s had no impact at all.

When broken down by party, 11 percent of Democrats thought #MeToo had treated men unfairly compared to 68 percent of Republicans. That could explain the Republican preference for De León.

When it comes to the gubernatorial vote, the survey found that a third of registered voters said they’re definitely going to vote for Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and 26 percent said they likely would. Twenty-one percent said they would probably or definitely vote for Republican business John Cox.

More than half of Californians said they felt more enthusiastic about voting in this campaign than in previous elections. Twelve percent said they’re less passionate. The vast majority of respondents said they’re definitely going to cast their ballot. Only 9 percent said they’re unlikely to vote.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


    • > Everything and all incumbents.

      Yes on Prop 6. Roll back the gas tax.

      It’s probably going to lose because Xavier Becerra did a Secretary of State dirty trick on the ballot title and summary.

      But people with pitchforks and torches will be coming after him.

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