Californians’ Views of Political Outsiders
One of the early surprises in the 2016 presidential election is the strength of polling support for primary candidates who have never held elected office. A recent Pew national survey also found that Americans chose "new ideas and a different approach” by a wide margin over "experience and a proven record” when asked what was more important in a presidential candidate (57% to 36%). What are the political ramifications of this emerging national trend for the 2016 California elections?
Californians have a storied history of choosing political outsiders, electing movie stars Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger as their governors. But in the past five years, career politicians have won by wide margins over political outsiders with business credentials. Voters chose Jerry Brown over Meg Whitman and Barbara Boxer over Carly Fiorina in 2010 and Jerry Brown over Neel Kashkari in 2014.
PPIC’s recent polling does not show a swing toward political outsiders among Californians this year either. When we repeated the Pew survey question in a recent PPIC Statewide Survey, California adults were less likely to say they favor new ideas over experience than their national counterparts (51% to 41%). More importantly, California likely voters are closely divided on new ideas versus experience (46% to 44%).