How Do Californians Feel About Governor Newsom?


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Demonstrators gathered in cities across the state for a ninth night to protest racism and police brutality on the same day that officials in Minnesota announced new charges for the Minneapolis officers in the death of George Floyd.

In Oakland, protesters defied a curfew they said was intended to silence them, while in Los Angeles, a weekly Black Lives Matter gathering swelled to thousands.

[Read about the new charges here.]

All this makes it feel strange to think that just about a week ago, Californians were carefully tracking a complicated, fraught process for reopening restaurants, stores, salons and other businesses that make up the lifeblood of the state’s economy.

[Read about California’s reopening process here.]

And not long before that, as the realities of the pandemic became more clear, pollsters with the nonprofit Public Policy Institute of California were taking the public’s temperature on the state and federal government’s response to the crisis in the institute’s most recent statewide survey.

Mark Baldassare, the organization’s president and chief executive, told me that the results show the depth of the psychological impact of the crisis; almost half of Californians say the worst is yet to come in the pandemic — but that number is much higher, 69 percent, among African-Americans, who have been disproportionately hurt both by the virus itself and economically in the crisis.

Still, almost six in 10 Californians are more worried about the state reopening too quickly, rather than not quickly enough.

“People continue to put their faith in state leadership around the Covid crisis,” Mr. Baldassare said.

That extends to Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose approval rating increased to 65 percent of adults from 53 percent in February.

President Trump’s approval rating, on the other hand, has stayed the same, 35 percent among adults, from February to May. And the ratings have been consistently divided along party lines.

That his handling of the coronavirus crisis hasn’t affected his ratings at all, Mr. Baldassare said, suggests that political polarization is deeply rooted.

“You could look at Donald Trump’s ratings before the impeachment,” he said. “There is nothing to date that has moved his base.”

Mr. Newsom, on the other hand, could be benefiting from a “rally around the flag,” phenomenon — but it’s a boost that may not last.

“The things that tend to make people disapprove of their governor is what our governor will be dealing with in the next few months,” Mr. Baldassare said. “State budget problems.”

And there are going to be a lot of them. Right now, the state’s $54.3 billion anticipated shortfall still feels abstract, Mr. Baldassare said. But as cuts to programs and services become real, Californians will almost certainly lay some blame at Mr. Newsom’s feet.

The survey showed that Californians have a dim view of both the state and national economies right now, amid huge job losses, Mr. Baldassare said.

But he added that one reason the protests over the past week had gained such broad, multicultural support is that many Californians across race and geography are frustrated with economic inequality.

That, coupled with what the survey found was overwhelming support for the state’s vote-by-mail expansion ahead of November, could point to a major mobilization of voters inspired by the protests to get more involved with local or state races.

“It will be people who are very upset about the status quo getting the chance to have their voice heard not just about the president or Congress,” Mr. Baldassare said.

[Read the full report here.]

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  • Amid calls to “defund the Los Angeles Police Department” and a budget crisis, Mayor Eric Garcetti said his office would look to cut $250 million from city departments, $100 million to $150 million would come from the L.A.P.D. Some of the money, he said, would instead be spent on job programs and other support for communities of color. [The Los Angeles Times]

  • Vallejo police shot and killed a kneeling man through a police car windshield amid protests in the Bay Area early on Tuesday. The city’s police chief said on Wednesday that officers were responding to calls related to looting at a Walgreens and the man, Sean Monterrosa, appeared to have a gun. Actually, he had a hammer. [The Associated Press]

For more context: Last year, Vallejo police drew outrage after shooting and killing Willie McCoy, who, it appeared in video, had been asleep in a Taco Bell drive-through. [The New York Times]

  • An Orange County Sheriff’s deputy is under investigation after he was seen wearing patches on his uniform associated with a right-wing paramilitary group at a protest in Costa Mesa. [The Orange County Register]

  • Tear gas could increase the risk of the spread of coronavirus. [The New York Times]

  • “We are in a state of emergency.” Faith leaders and black community members have asked the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to consider declaring racism a public health crisis. [The San Bernardino Sun]

  • It’s impossible to live sustainably without tackling inequality, climate activists say. [The New York Times]

  • Mark Zuckerberg’s stance on President Trump’s inflammatory posts on Facebook drew fresh criticism in a letter from early employees. [The New York Times]

  • If you missed it, the College Board has scrapped plans to administer the SAT at home. [The New York Times]

  • For Hmong-Americans in the Twin Cities, the response to the unrest following the death of George Floyd has been profoundly complicated. [The New York Times]

Read about the Hmong community in Fresno. [The New York Times]

  • Probably not what a hamburger’s all about: In-N-Out is suing its corporate insurer for breach of contract, saying that it wrongly denied the restaurant company’s pandemic-related claims. [Eater Los Angeles]

  • On top of everything, a 5.5 magnitude earthquake hit the Ridgecrest area, the same place where the biggest temblors to rattle the state in years hit in July. [The Bakersfield Californian]

Global Pride will be online, organizers have announced, as will San Francisco Pride and San Diego Pride.

But as has been broadly noted over the past week, Pride celebrations commemorate Stonewall, an uprising against discrimination led by people of color like Marsha P. Johnson, the black transgender advocate and performer.

And so the nonprofit that produces the LA Pride Parade announced on Wednesday that it would once again host an in-person event — but this one would be a protest march in solidarity with the black community. It’ll be on Sunday, June 14.

“It is our moral imperative to honor the legacy of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who bravely led the Stonewall uprising, by standing in solidarity with the Black community against systemic racism,” said Estevan Montemayor, president of the board of directors for the organization, Christopher Street West, in a statement.

The organization has asked participants to wear face coverings.

California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: [email protected]. Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, went to school at U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.


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