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Poll: Gov. Brown’s High Approval Ratings — We’d Elect Him Again

| December 5, 2013
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California Gov. Jerry Brown (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California Gov. Jerry Brown (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Gov. Jerry Brown is the longest-serving chief executive in California history — and if he wants to run for a fourth term in 2014, it looks like we’d be fine with that.

A new Field Poll (the full results are embedded at the end of this article) shows that nearly six in ten registered voters  (58 percent) statewide approve of the job he is doing, with just 33 percent disapproving — an increase of seven points in Brown’s approval rating since July.

And while Brown has not said whether he will run again for governor next year, the poll shows that when Brown and three other possible candidates are listed in a simulated June open primary election, Brown is the overwhelming choice — receiving 52 percent of the preferences, followed in order by former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado (11 percent), State Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (9 percent), and former Assistant Treasury Secretary Neel Kashkari (3 percent). Another 25 percent are undecided.

Edmund G. Brown Jr. was first elected governor in 1974, again in 1978, and once more in 2010.  Early on, Chicago columnist Mike Royko tagged him ”Governor Moonbeam” because he was young, idealistic and nontraditional and appealed to the Golden State’s young, idealistic and nontraditional. But the latest Jerry Brown, the one who assumed office a few years ago, has taken a back-to-basics approach to governing, focusing on budgetary reforms that have largely erased the $27 billion state deficit he inherited from Arnold Schwarzenegger, and funding the state’s public education system through the passage of Prop. 30 last year.

In turn, Californians’ approval of Brown has risen significantly, to the highest ratings of his tenure. According to the Field Poll:

In March 2011, less than three months after Brown assumed office, The Field Poll found 48% of voters approving, 21% disapproving and a relatively large proportion (31%) having no opinion. Since that time more voters have formed an opinion of his performance. In the current survey the proportion of voters unable to rate Brown has declined to just 9%.

At present, 58% of voters say they approve of the job Brown is doing as governor, his highest
approval rating of his tenure, while one in three (33%) disapprove.

More than three in four Democrats (78%) offer a positive evaluation of how Brown is handling his job and just 14% give a negative assessment. About six in ten Republicans (63%) disapprove of Brown’s performance, while 27% approve. Among independent voters 58% approve and 33% disapprove.

Brown’s popularity in a 2014 governor’s race may be due to the fact that, right now at least, his likely opponents have little name recognition. In fact, while a November USC/Los Angeles Times poll found more than 50 percent of Californians generally approve Brown’s performance in office, only 32 percent say they’re inclined to vote for him next fall.

Brown has been criticized on how he has dealt with various issues, such as prison overcrowding. His stance on fracking has upset environmentalists and may prove a sticking point should he run for re-election. From the Sacramento Bee:

Environmentalists frustrated with Brown’s permissiveness of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have followed the Democratic governor to events throughout the state since September, heckling him for his approval of legislation establishing a permitting system for the controversial form of oil extraction.

The protests have become an awkward sideshow for the third-term governor, highlighting the deepening division between Brown and environmentalists – a reliably Democratic constituency – as he prepares for a re-election bid next year.

Brown will be 76 if he stands for reelection next year and 77 barely three months into his fourth term, if reelected.
Here is the full Field Poll report:

Field Poll: Gov. Brown’s High Approval Ratings

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Category: Government, News, Sacramento

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