Survey: Majority of Californians oppose border wall, support racial inclusion

Press Release

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Berkeley, California: Two-thirds of Californians oppose President Donald Trump’s proposed wall along the US-Mexico border and 64 percent believe the state should limit hospital, school, and law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration officials, according to the results of a recent survey commissioned by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley released today.

The wide-ranging “California Survey on Othering and Belonging: Views on Identity, Race and Politics,” conducted last December in English and Spanish among 2,440 residents, also finds broad support for racially and socially inclusive policies, economic justice, and immigration reform across age cohorts, racial/ethnic groups, regions of the state, and even across liberal, conservative, and moderate political viewpoints.

But the poll also finds that Californians hold some contradictory and troubling views. For example, while 70 percent of Californians say immigrants strengthen the country, 49 percent of the population supports a so-called “Muslim ban.”

Seventy-one percent of Californians think that establishing a pathway to citizenship is somewhat or very important, and 79 percent support a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers. But 24 percent said increasing deportations is very important, and 35 percent said such a policy is somewhat important.

“This broad support for progressive views, alongside some fairly widespread views rooted in more exclusionary and punitive narratives, point to the powerful role of social movements and public leadership in activating Californians’ more inclusive selves,” says Olivia Araiza, the director of the Haas Institute’s Blueprint for Belonging Project, which was in charge of commissioning the survey, in partnership with the polling group Latino Decisions.

Around two-thirds of Latino and Black residents reject the idea that they are competing with each other. Some 68 percent of all respondents support race-conscious policies like affirmative action. Yet about half the respondents agreed with an historically anti-Black, boot-straps narrative that Black people need to “try harder.”

A fundamental takeaway from the report is that degrees of support and opposition for a policy can vary—sometimes widely—based on how the issue is framed. For instance, when asked how increased taxes on corporations would affect the economy, 58 percent of respondents say it would hurt or make no difference. Yet, 68 percent think big businesses and corporations are not paying their fair share of state taxes.

The poll suggests that potential support is high for a pro-equity policy vision, but that this support must be cultivated and sustained through outreach and information campaigns anchored in narratives that point Californians towards their shared progressive values and identity.

“We have made a lot of progress toward being more inclusive and equitable, but we cannot take for granted the progress we have made in California since the 1990s, when fear-based politics dominated the state,” said Eli Moore, a Haas Institute researcher involved in the project.

The Institute is developing future briefs that will compare regions within the state and examine the responses of sub-populations such as young adults and unregistered voters. 

Media Contact:
Eli Moore
elimoore@berkeley.edu

Olivia Araiza
oliviaaraiza@berkeley.edu

Rachelle Galloway-Popotas
galloway.popotas@berkeley.edu

Marc Abizeid
marcabizeid@berkeley.edu