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Californians listed crime as a top voting issue in a new poll. Will it impact elections?

Analysts and party leaders weigh in.

SAN DIEGO — A new Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll out Thursday shows that housing affordability, homelessness, crime, and gas prices are the top four issues voters are worried about.

California ranks among the worst in the country in some of these categories right now, but will that be enough to unseat elected officials?

This is where experts somewhat disagree. 

California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Milan Patterson said the party is ready to run away with what voters told the pollsters are their utmost concerns. 

“Whether it's housing, crime, or education, California democrats have failed Californians," Patterson said. "I think that going into the November 2022 Election, California Republicans are going to be able to offer real solutions to real problems that California democrats have fallen away from.”

Political Analyst Steve Swatt said crime is a powerful voting issue because it drives fear, and fear drives people to the polls. 

“So if crime goes down, the party in power can claim credit for that," Swatt said. "If crime goes up, the party in power is blamed. In the last two years, since the pandemic started, crime has been going up. So democrats definitely are on the defensive.”

An earlier Berkeley IGS survey showed a 51% majority of voters also downrates the governor’s performance on crime. That’s up 16 percentage points from 2020. 

But Swatt said because of the recall, those numbers won't mean much.

"Governor Newsom should cruise to an easy reelection victory," he said. "Where it could make an impact is on the down-ticket races."

Races for attorney general, for example. 

"Rob Bonta, the Democrat, wants to run for election (he was appointed to the post), but you have some pretty good opposition there, including Anne Marie Schubert as an independent from Sacramento."

Chairman of the San Diego Democratic Party Will Rodriguez-Kennedy said they’re actively responding to the fear the polls confirmed.

“Our party has always believed that when people speak that we listen and that we execute their will,” Rodriguez-Kennedy said.

'Worried', however, is not a word he would use to describe down-ticket races. 

“A lot of this will go away once we start recovering as a state from the pandemic," he said. "A lot of this will also as we address some of the underlying sort of systemic issues.”

Prominent GOP Political Consultant Mike Madrid believes California is so blue, that he doesn’t think it’ll make an impact in any of the down-ticket races. 

Madrid believes people would rather hold out hope that their party fixes the problem than go to the alternative. 

Something of note in the Berkeley poll: while crime overall is one of the top voting issues, there’s a big disparity when you break it down by party. About 40% of republicans listed it as their number one, but only 14% of Democrats did.  

WATCH RELATED: It takes half a trillion dollars to solve the country's homeless problem | Rynor Report (Feb. 2022).


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