The nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California released an extensive statewide poll of Californians yesterday that is chock full of eye-opening findings. One conclusion should probably come as no surprise. A proposal to modify legislative term limits in California may be a tough sell. According to the poll, 68% of likely voters think term limits have been a good thing, and 64% oppose a preliminary proposal to change the provisions of California legislative term limits. However, the poll question did not make it clear to respondents that the proposal would actually shorten the overall amount of time one person could serve in the legislature. A joint study by NCSL, the Council of State Governments and the State Legislative Leaders Foundation titled Coping With Term Limits and released last August found that term limits have generally had negative effects on the institution of the legislature. (The report is not available online but you can read about its findings in an earlier Thicket Post here and order a hard copy here). Apparently, studies akin to NCSL's have not had much influence on average Californians who still believe term limits are good public policy.
The poll also reports that 41% of California adults approve of the job of the Legislature while only 42% disapprove. Believe it or not, those are good numbers compared to previous polls on legislative job ratings. Redistricting reform does not appear to be a burning issue for folks on the left coast. Only 37% of those polled think the redistricting process needs "major changes" with 27% saying minor changes would suffice. In contrast, 71% of respondents say the California health care system needs "major changes" with 16% calling for "minor changes."