California Viewpoints Survey Reveals Optimistic Results

Californians agree: efficiency, transparency and accountability must be focus of solutions

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A study of Californians conducted by Viewpoint Learning and released today by California Forward determines that, while the problems that face California are serious, an overwhelming number of Californians say the state is fixable—not ungovernable.

This is the first in a series of “California Viewpoints” surveys measuring the mood of Californians about their government, reforms and potential solutions. The survey included 1,020 Californians who mirror the makeup of California.

The survey also found that mistrust and lack of accountability at state and local levels is a major barrier to reforms. But regardless of differences, there is a general convergence across all demographic and political groups on the importance of efficiency, transparency and accountability as solutions.

While Californians believe government must listen to the people and regain their trust in order to move meaningful reform forward, they also believe that by focusing on performance outcomes government can work.

“This survey confirms what California Forward believes to be true: Californians believe our state is governable, and we must restore accountability, efficiency and trust to state and local government,” said Bob Hertzberg, chair of California Forward’s leadership council. “Although 80% of Californians believe our problems are serious, they believe that by focusing on outcomes and increasing transparency we can develop real solutions that work.”

Other Key Findings:

• 86% of Californians believe it is possible for the state to be well run

• 80% of Californians believe problems with state government are serious directly affect their daily lives

• Those who closely follow media stories on government and politics are most likely to rate California’s problems as extremely serious but they are also most likely to say these problems can be fixed.

• Top 3 problems with government are too much bureaucracy waste and fraud, our leaders don’t listen to regular people and elected officials aren’t held accountable.

• Top 3 solutions include getting rid of programs that don’t produce results, require government to measure the effectiveness of programs and issuing regular reports on the results of all government programs.

• There is very little appetite for new taxes or increased flexibility in spending.

“It is clear that Californians want to be a part of the solution,” said California Forward leadership council member Bruce McPherson. “Elected officials must listen to the people in order to regain their trust and move forward with meaningful reforms. California Forward is committed to facilitating this conversation and advocating for a government that is transparent, accountable and focuses on results.”

To read the contents of the entire survey, please click here.


The online survey of 1,020 Californians was conducted from a mix of panels, Facebook and mobile intercepts from Dec 9-19, 2010. The sample distribution matches California 2009 census data on gender, age, education, and ethnicity. There was an exact match on official numbers on political affiliation and comparable numbers on ideology. The survey has a margin of error of +/-3.1%.


California Forward, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, is working to bring government closer to the people. We believe empowered local communities are best equipped to solve their own problems.

We are committed to partnering with others across the state to develop our Fiscal Reform, Operational Reform, and Democracy Reform efforts. We are also engaging in a statewide conversation on reform, Speak Up CA, in which citizens across the state will be given an opportunity to learn more and help shape our reform proposals.

California Forward is supported or endorsed by an unprecedented diversity of more than 200 business, labor, faith, and community organizations from all over the state.

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