Maybe it's the weeks and months of headlines chronicling the ever-worsening drought. Or perhaps it's the dichotomy of a shrinking unemployment rate but a growing sense of income inequality. Heck, it could just be the latest Hollywood blockbuster that shows us all tumbling into a chasm cracked open by the Big One.
Whatever the reason, when it comes to the hope that Californians may feel about the state turning the corner on years of tough times, a new poll makes it clear: Not so fast.
"The mixed poll ratings for the state's direction and the economic outlook are indicators that the recovery from the Great Recession is still very much a work in progress," says Mark Baldassare, pollster and president of the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.
PPIC's newest poll offers a new but familiar glimpse of just how crestfallen Californians seem when it comes to the road ahead. Only 40 percent of likely voters think the state is headed in the right direction, a 9-point decline since March and 4 points lower than all adults who were surveyed this same time in 2014. When the poll is broadened to all adults, it's more of a split decision; but here, too, PPIC finds a decline in optimism about the direction of California.
Scores of news reports have made clear that the official ranks of the jobless are declining -- 29,500 new jobs in April alone -- but Californians seem to think the economy is headed for more "San Andreas"-like shaking. Where 52 percent of adults surveyed by PPIC in March thought good economic times were ahead, it's now down to 48 percent; likely voters are evenly split at 44 percent. Bay Area residents are the most optimistic (57 percent), while those in the Inland Empire (35 percent) and the Central Valley (43 percent) are the least optimistic.