October 23, 2016
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AZ Immigration Law Divides California Voters

 LOS ANGELES —  Arizona's controversial new immigration law has California's voters divided by age, ethnicity and gender, according to the findings of the latest USC College/Los Angeles Times Poll. In addition, the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf has turned Californians away from new offshore drilling.

The poll was conducted May 19 - 26 with a sampling of 1,506 voters and a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percent. The findings indicate that, overall, 50 percent of registered California voters favor the Arizona immigration measure, with 43 percent in opposition [nationally the figure in support is at approximately 60 percent according to recent polls].  

Along party lines, there remains a sharp divide: 62 percent of registered Democrats oppose the law, while 48 percent of Republicans are in favor.   

California voters are also markedly divided on the issue along age, ethnicity and gender lines.  Voters aged 18 - 29 oppose the measure, with 58 percent against; those aged 30 - 44 are almost evenly split [47 percent in opposition, 48 percent in favor]; voters aged 45 - 64 favor the measure with 53 percent in support, and those 65 years and older favored the measure with 57 percent in support.

Gender:  53 percent of registered male voters said they favor the Arizona measure, while 47 percent of female voters said they were in support.

Ethnicity:  Hispanic and Asian voters were sharply against the Arizona measure, with 71 percent of Hispanics and 57 percent of Asians in opposition.  However, Black voters were evenly divided, with 44 percent in favor and 44 percent in opposition.  Most White voters favored the law, with 58 percent in favor and 35 percent in opposition.

The poll results indicate that voters who oppose the AZ immigration law are highly motivated to support candidates who agree with them. Among those who oppose the AZ immigration law, 33 percent said there was "no chance" that they would vote for a candidate with whom they disagreed about immigration, compared to 22 percent of the law's supporters. In contrast, 39 percent of supporters of the AZ immigration law said there was a "fair chance" they would vote for a candidate with whom they disagreed on immigration, compared to only 25 percent of registered voters who oppose the law. 

"Californian voters support the Arizona law, but not nearly by the margins we've seen in other parts of the country," said 
Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC.  "Opponents of the law seem much more emotionally engaged than supporters: our poll shows that a candidate's position on this issue is more likely to motivate an opponent of the new law to change their vote than a supporter"

Offshore Drilling

California voters, shocked by images of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, are now trending against new offshore drilling off their coast, according to the poll. 

Overall, 48 percent of California's registered voters oppose new offshore drilling in the State, with 41 percent in favor, according to the poll.  Those figures represent a 10 point turn-around from 2009, when California voters, stung by rising gasoline prices, began to soften a decades-old opposition to new drilling.  

Along party lines, 64 percent of registered Democrats oppose new drilling offshore, with 25 percent of registered Republicans in opposition [67 percent of that group still supports new off-shore drilling].  Registered voters who declined to state party affiliation opposed the drilling by 49 percent, with 40 percent in favor.

Attitudes toward off-shore drilling also varied greatly by geography:  74 percent of California voters living in coastal areas opposed new offshore drilling, but only 26 percent of inland voters were in opposition.  

Attitudes differed as well along gender lines: 54 percent of female California voters are now in opposition, while 53 percent of males are in favor of new drilling.  On this issue, ethnic groups were generally clustered tightly, with Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians saying they were against expanded offshore drilling by 49, 49, 48 and 50 percent, respectively.

"When Californians were paying four dollars a gallon for gasoline a few years back, support for offshore drilling grew very rapidly," said Schnur. "When those same voters look at pictures of the Gulf spill, they're not nearly as excited about the idea. The 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill drove public opinion on this issue for more than thirty years. What we're seeing now is a return to the voters' long-time reluctance on this issue"

Open Primary Measure

California voters of both major parties indicated support for the Open Primary Measure [Proposition 14], with 52 percent overall in favor and 28 percent in opposition.  Voters declining to state party affiliation were even more strongly in favor, with 57 percent in support. The measure would allow voters, regardless of party affiliation, to participate in a primary election.  The top two vote-getters from the primary would then appear on the general election ballot.

For Media: Results of the USC College/Los Angeles Times Poll are available at the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Web site

About the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences/Los Angeles Times Poll: 
TheUSC College/Los Angeles Times Pollproject is a series of six statewide public opinion polls that began November 8, 2009, and will continue throughout California’s crucial 2010 elections for governor and U.S. Senate.

These polls are taken at regular intervals and are designed to survey California residents’ attitudes on a wide range of political, policy, social and cultural issues to better inform the public and to encourage discourse on key political and policy issues.

About USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences: USC College of Letters, Art & Sciences is the university’s primary center for research and education in the natural sciences, humanities and social sciences. The largest of USC’s 19 academic schools, USC College is composed of more than 30 academic departments and more than 20 Ph.D. programs, and is home to more than two dozen research centers and institutes.

About the Los Angeles Times: The Los Angeles Times is the largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the country, with a daily readership of 2 million and 3 million on Sunday, and a combined print and interactive local weekly audience of 4.5 million. The fast-growing latimes.comdraws over 10 million unique visitors monthly.

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