Californians Worry About Poverty, But Disagree About What To Do About It

By some measures, California has the highest poverty rate of any state in the country. So perhaps it’s not surprising that Californians in general are worried about poverty as an issue. They’re exposed to it more than most.

A new survey finds that large majorities of California residents see poverty as a “major problem,” even if they’re split, as usual, about what to do about it. Seventy-seven percent of Democrats say it’s a major problem, compared to 57% of Republicans, and 72% of independents.

The numbers hold up across race, income, education, age, and gender differences. But there’s disagreement about whether higher minimum wages are the answer. Under a law passed this April, California will raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. Four-fifths of Democrats (82%) strongly or somewhat favor the measure, while only 33% Republicans feel the same. Almost two-thirds of Republicans oppose it “strongly” or “somewhat.”

The findings echo national surveys showing that Americans are increasingly concerned about inequality and income gaps. Strong majorities of both Democrats and Republicans think inequality is widening, one Pew Research poll found. But again there was a split about the role of government in addressing the issue. About 90% of Democrats said government should do “a lot” or “some” to reduce disparities. But only 45% of Republicans said the same; almost half said government should do “not much” (15%) or “nothing at all” (33%).

The California poll, conducted online and by mail, is based on 915 completed responses. It was completed in August by the Institute for Social Research at Sacramento State University. See more here.

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[Cover Photo: Flickr user Anthony Quintano]