A day after Pres. Barack Obama offered a sober but hopeful State of the Union address to the nation, results from a survey of California voters offered a grimmer verdict on the state of the United States and of their state. And the message was simple: the country and California are off track.
The Field Poll found that 49 percent of voters surveyed think the United States is headed in the wrong direction, compared to 41 percent who think the country is off track. That’s a shift from an October Field Poll survey, which found the numbers virtually reversed, with 48 percent positive about the country’s direction and 41 percent saying it is off track.
The hemorrhaging of optimism about the country’s future was sharpest among Democrats, men and younger and middle-aged voters.
But the state’s nonwhite voters still showed greater optimism than the general voter pool.
The poll, conducted for the first time in Asian languages as well as English and Spanish, revealed that California’s ethnic voters have a sunnier view of the U.S.’s prospects. While just 36 percent of white voters surveyed responded that the country is going in the right direction, 64 percent of African Americans believe that, followed by 51 percent of Chinese Americans, 47 percent of Latinos and 45 percent of Vietnamese Americans. Korean Americans, however, were closer to whites in their gloomy view, with 37 percent believing the country is on the right track.
The mild optimism about the nation’s direction that California voters expressed in last fall’s Field Poll survey was not reflected in their opinions about their state. And in this follow-up survey, Californians hewed to a pessimistic appraisal of the state that was shared by all groups.
Just 11 percent of whites and 13 percent of blacks said California is headed in the right direction. Asian American and Latino voters were a bit more hopeful, with 22 percent of Chinese Americans, 21 percent of Vietnamese Americans, 20 percent of Latinos and 19 percent of Koreans saying that.
The latest Field Poll survey was conducted by telephone from January 5-17 among 1,232
registered California voters. It is the first survey conducted in six languages and dialects - English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese - based on the preference of the voter, and was done in partnership with New America Media.
Full survey results are available at The Field Poll.