Poll Finds People Care About the Drought but Aren’t Inclined to Do Much About It

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Californians are well aware that their state is locked in a dreadful drought but by and large don’t want to do much about it.

The results (pdf) of a Los Angeles Times/USC Dornsife poll found that 40% of people considered the drought a “crisis,” 48% thought it was a “major problem” and only 2% thought it wasn’t a problem at all.

But only 25% of those polled would strongly support a mandatory 20% reduction in their water use and another 24% would be somewhat likely to go along. Just 31% would be strongly in favor of financial penalties for using too much water and 27% would somewhat back that. A measly 22% strongly back increasing water rates to encourage conservation and 25% are somewhat supportive.

They also aren’t crazy about requiring farmers and the agricultural industry, which overwhelmingly uses most of the state’s water, to reduce their use (22% strongly favor and 24% are wishy-washy) or institute strong financial penalties in general for using too much water (31% are gung-ho, 27% are favorably inclined).

They prefer voluntary incentives, but aren’t even all that keen on those. Fifty-five percent said they would strongly support a voluntary 20% reduction in their water use. Another 26% were somewhat inclined.

Although on a case-by-case basis, they reject spending money to deal with the drought, they support doing something that costs money, but only in theory. There is strong support for recycling more water (75%) and improving the state’s capture of storm water (71%).

They don’t want to remove their lawns and replace them with drought-tolerant plants (only 25% like that idea), but they are willing to consider taking shorter showers, flush the toilet less and turn the water off when they brush their teeth. Eighty-seven percent are on board for those deprivations. They are also willing to water their lawns less (66% in favor).

The poll of 1,511 registered voters was conducted from May 21-28 and covered subjects other than the drought.

An overwhelming number of respondents were concerned about state government corruption (84% are very/somewhat concerned), but 52% believe the system is not corrupt; it’s just a “few bad apples.” Thirty-one percent are not surprised three state senators have recently been accused or convicted of crimes and 4% are sad about it (22% are angry and 22% are disappointed).

There was no angry/disappointed/sad question about how people felt about the drought. But only 16% of those polled said it was having a major impact on their lives, so perhaps the question would have been moot for them.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Poll Finds Little Support for Drought Spending Despite Broad Awareness (by Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times)

Californians Want to Fix the Drought—Without Spending Any Money (by Alex Park, Mother Jones)

Ca Voters See Drought as Major Crisis—But with Little Effect on Daily Lives (USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times)

Poll Results (pdf)

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