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Californians and their views on crime – CBS News poll

Nearly all Californians say crime is an important issue, including more than two in three who consider it very important.

Californians were offered a range of potential policy prescriptions for what they’d like to see done to help prevent violent crime. (Ideas were not mutually exclusive so they could pick as many or as few as they wanted.)

Among the top-rated answers were increased economic opportunity and jobs. Closely following this was having more mental health services available. Large majorities would like to see these.

Almost half of Californians chose making fewer guns available as something that they think could help (49%) — and they pick that at three times the rate as those who thought making more guns available would help (14%). They selected the idea of more funding for police at a higher rate (48%) than the idea of less funding for police (13%), but many don’t think either would help. A third of Californians thought having more racial diversity in neighborhoods would help.

Some ideas tend to be grouped together, so Californians who say more job opportunities would help prevent violent crime also felt this way about more mental health services. Most of these Californians also chose fewer guns. Ideological conservatives were relatively more likely to select more funding for police than were liberals, but most liberals and conservatives agreed that more mental health services and economic opportunities would help.

Looking at the police in their own area, more Californians say the police where they live make them feel protected, compared to those who said they felt threatened, while some say it’s a mix, and a few said neither.

Black Californians are relatively more likely than others to say it was a mix, but the sentiment that they feel protected still outpaced those who only feel threatened.

Governor Gavin Newsom gets only mixed approval for his handling of crime. It is lower than his handling of issues like the economy or the wildfires.

This CBS News survey was fielded by YouGov with a representative sample of 1,856 California adult residents interviewed between August 6-12, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on  the U.S. Census American Community Survey, and the U.S. Census Current Population Survey, as well as 2020 Presidential vote. The margin of error is ±4.0 points for the total sample.

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