Exclusive poll: As state reopens, Californians remain cautious


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (NEXSTAR) — A new poll released by Nexstar Media Group’s six California Television Stations along with Emerson College found that while the state begins to relax restrictions and reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, Californians remain cautious of resuming most activities.

The exclusive new statewide poll of more than 1,000 registered voters, which has a margin of error of +/- 3%, shows right now COVID-19 remains the top issue and Californians are hesitant to resume a pre-pandemic lifestyle with nearly half the respondents not ready to eat indoors at a restaurant.

Would you eat indoors at a restaurant at this time?

  • Yes: 43.7%
  • No: 49.5%
  • Unsure: 6.8%
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Digging deeper into the numbers, 61.4% of 18-29 year old respondents in the poll said they would not eat indoors, while 49.2% of 65 and older said yes would eat indoors.

Spencer Kimball, Director of Emerson College Polling, said “the data suggests the age
difference is not being driven by who is vaccinated but instead of the 21% who said they don’t
plan to get the vaccine 77% of them plan to eat at an indoor restaurant and 70% who don’t plan
to take the vaccine will attend a sporting event suggesting those most vulnerable to getting
covid will be at these events”.

On March 5, California announced ballparks, stadiums, and theme parks can reopen outdoors with certain restrictions beginning April 1.

Upon hearing the news, some sports teams were quick to announce ticket purchasing options and talk about the excitement of fans returning to the stands.

However, the poll showed Californians were also wary of attending outdoor sporting events right now.

Would you go to an outdoor sporting event at this time?

  • Yes: 42.8%
  • No: 45.9%
  • Unsure: 11.3%
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The top issue for California voters is Covid-19 at 22%, followed by homelessness at 19%,
corrupt politicians at 18%, and housing costs at 14%. No other issue topped 6%. Among
Hispanic and Latino voters in California, homelessness ranks as the most important issue at

Recently the state opened up vaccinations to an estimated 4.4 million people ages 16-64 with disabilities and certain health conditions, including severe obesity, type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease at stage four or above and Down syndrome.

The state is also expanding eligibility to transit workers and residents and workers of homeless shelters, jails and detention centers. They join teachers, food and agriculture workers, health care employees and seniors 65 and older in being eligible for the vaccine.

The rise in vaccinations is part of a broader improvement throughout California that will have more than 90% of the state’s population of nearly 40 million residents out of the most restrictive color-coded tier by Wednesday.

According to the poll, nearly half of Californians said they were planning on receiving the vaccine as soon as it is available.

Are you planning on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine shot?

  • Yes, as soon as it is available to me: 46.8%
  • Yes, but not right away: 12.5%
  • No, I do not plan to receive the COVI-19 vaccine shot: 20.5%
  • I have already received the COVID-19 vaccine shot: 20.3%
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At this time, the state is in the process of switching over to a vaccine appointment and delivery system administered by Blue Shield that is expected to be completed by March 31.

California recently announced that it had surpassed 10 million vaccinations, with 1.67 million doses administered in the last seven days. It’s too early to attribute that uptick to changes under Blue Shield, a spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health said.

Over the weekend, health care providers have reported administering nearly 11.8 million vaccine doses statewide, the department said.

Due to these advancements, Californians were for the most part split on rating the vaccine rollout and distribution, with 34% rating it “good” and 37% rating it as “fair.”

How would you rate California’s COVID-19 vaccine roll-out and distribution?

  • Excellent: 8.7%
  • Good: 34.2%
  • Fair: 36.9%
  • Poor: 20.3%

California has used stadiums, arenas, fairgrounds — even Disneyland — to build a large capacity to administer shots, but much has gone unused because of the limited availability of vaccines. Residents were frustrated when the state first started vaccinating the general population in January, with 58 counties and individual hospital systems setting their own rules for who could make an appointment and how.

The poll revealed 43% of Californians were very well informed about their vaccine eligibility, with 37.5% somewhat informed.

How informed are you about when you will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

  • Very well informed: 43.4%
  • Somewhat informed: 37.5%
  • Not very informed: 13.5%
  • Not at all informed: 5.6%

California’s mask mandate largely remains the most restrictive in the U.S.

Last November, the state expanded its mask mandate, requiring everyone over the age of 2 to wear a face covering when outside their homes.

The original statewide mandate requiring the use of face masks was first enacted last June.

But even as the state loosens restrictions, a little more than half of Californians say the mask mandate is about right.

According to the poll, a little more than half of Californians said they were satisfied with the mask mandate.

What do you think of California’s mask mandate?

  • Doesn’t go far enough: 23.4%
  • Too restrictive: 25.8%
  • About right: 50.7%

Californians were mostly divided on deciding if the state was on the right path for economic recovery.

Earlier this year, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed $4 billion worth of state spending he says will help small businesses survive in 2021.

Close to half of that money — $1.5 billion — would help people purchase electric cars and create construction jobs by paying for the charging stations necessary for drivers to use them. The proposal is linked to Newsom’s plan to ban the sale of all new gas-powered cars in California by 2035.

Additionally, the massive COVID-19 relief bill Congress approved March 11 will pump more than $150 billion into California’s economy, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration said, including a $26 billion windfall for the state’s already burgeoning budget surplus.

Nearly half of the money will go to Californians directly in the form of $1,400 checks and expanded unemployment benefits.

Is California on the right path for economic recovery?

  • Yes: 36.1%
  • No: 38.6%
  • Unsure: 25.3%

Nexstar Media has stations In San Francisco (KRON4), Sacramento (Fox40), Fresno (KSEE/KGPE), Bakersfield (KGET), Los Angeles (KTLA), and San Diego (Fox5).

The Nexstar Media Group/ Emerson College poll was conducted March 12-14, 2021. The sample consisted of California registered voters, n=1,045, with a Credibility Interval (CI) similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE) of +/- 3 percentage points.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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