2003 PPIC Statewide Survey: December 2003
Special Survey of Orange County
Public Policy Institute of California
in collaboration with the
University of California, Irvine

Executive Summary
Press Release
Survey Methodology


Orange County Issues
Country Condition Today
Consumer Confidence
Real Estate Market

Most Important Countywide Problem
Problems in Orange County's Regions
Local Transportation Priorities and Funding
Local Transportation Projects

Local Public Services and Local Government Ratings

State Issue
California Conditions Today
Attitudes Toward State Government
Approval Ratings and Priorties for Governor Schwarzenegger

State Budget Solutions

National Issues
US Conditions Today
Approval Ratings: President Bush
2004 National Election
Political Parties and National Issues

2003 Survey
Survey Advisory Commitee

University of California, Irvine
© 2003 UC Regents


Executive Summary

The Orange County Survey – a collaborative effort of the Public Policy Institute of California and the School of Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine – is a special edition of the PPIC Statewide Survey.

This is the third in an annual series of PPIC surveys of Orange County. Mark Baldassare, the director of the PPIC Statewide Survey, is the founder and director of the Orange County Annual Survey at UCI and a former UCI professor. The UCI survey was conducted 19 times from 1982 to 2000, so the Orange County Survey collaboration between PPIC and UCI that began in 2001 is an extension of earlier survey efforts. The special survey of Orange County is co-sponsored by UCI with local support from Deloitte and Touche, Pacific Life Foundation, Disneyland, Los Angeles Times, Orange County Business Council, Orange County Division of League of California Cities, Orange County Register, The Irvine Company, and United Way of Orange County.

Orange County is the second most populous county in the state and one of California’s fastest growing and changing regions. The county is home to almost three million residents today, having gained approximately one million residents since 1980. Three in four residents were white and non-Hispanic in 1980; today, nearly half are Latinos and Asians. The county’s dynamic economy has become one of the leaders in the high-technology industry. The county is a bellwether county in politics and the site of many important governance issues, including a county-government bankruptcy, public controversy over the reuse plans for the closed El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, and the use and expansion of toll roads. There are also housing, transportation, and environmental concerns related to development.

Public opinion findings are critical to informing discussions and resolving public debates on key issues. The purpose of this study is to inform policymakers by providing timely, accurate, and objective information about policy preferences and economic, social, and political trends.

To measure changes over time, this survey of 1,004 adult residents includes questions from earlier Orange County Annual Surveys. It also includes key indicators from the PPIC Statewide Survey for comparisons with the state and regions of California. We also consider racial/ethnic, income, and political differences. The following issues are explored in this Orange County Survey:

• Orange County Issues – What are the trends over time in ratings of life in Orange County? How satisfied are residents with their finances, local public services, local government, the economy, and with the quality of life in Orange County? Compared to other regions of the state, how much of a problem are issues such as traffic congestion, the economy, growth, and housing in Orange County? What are residents’ preferences for transportation plans and local transportation taxes?

• State Issues – What is the overall outlook for the state and the California economy? How much confidence do residents have in state government, and how do they want to see the state’s budget issues resolved? How do residents rate the current plans and policies of Governor Schwarzenegger, and what do they see as the top policy priorities for the new administration in Sacramento?

• National Issues – What is the outlook for the United States and the national economy? How do residents rate the overall performance of President Bush and his handling of the economy and terrorism? Which party do they trust when it comes to handling issues such as the economy, health care, and national security? What are their early preferences in the 2004 national elections?

Copies of this report may be ordered by e-mail (order@ppic.org) or phone (415-291-4400). Copies of this and earlier reports are posted on the publications page of the PPIC web site (www.ppic.org). For questions about the survey, please contact survey@ppic.org.