Half of Statewide Voters Believe Early Childhood Education Should Be a Priority for the Next Governor

Half of Statewide Voters Believe Early Childhood Education, Paid Family Leave, Should Be a Priority for the Next Governor

Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s Choose Children 2018 Campaign’s Statewide Poll Also Reveals Newsom, Cox Leading Gubernatorial Hopefuls

Half of California’s likely voters (50.1%) continue to strongly support making quality early childhood education programs available for all children a top priority for California’s next governor, while 53.4% of likely voters say that paid family leave should be expanded beyond the current six weeks, according to a statewide poll released today by Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s Choose Children 2018 campaign. Voter support for increasing investment in early education programs and support for expanding California’s existing paid family leave program is deep-rooted and shared across ethnicity, age, gender, political party, and throughout California’s diverse geographic communities.

“Despite the myriad priorities that face our state, Californians continue to believe that investing early in babies, toddlers and preschoolers and making quality early education programs available should be a top priority for our next governor,” said Emmett D. Carson, Ph.D., CEO of Silicon Valley Community Foundation. “Not surprisingly, voters also understand the link between investing early in education and the important role paid family leave plays to promote healthy kids and families.”

The statewide poll, which was conducted by a bipartisan team of pollsters, found that 53.4% of voters believe California’s paid family leave program should be expanded beyond the current six-week program. Additionally, a super-majority of voters (69.3%) support ensuring quality affordable pre-school is available for every family. The poll also found that 65.9% support voluntary home visiting programs for new parents and their babies. When voters were asked what early childhood education policies would make them more likely to support a candidate for governor, an overwhelming number voiced support for investing in healthcare for young children (69.7%); raising wages for qualified preschool teachers and child care providers (69.3%); identifying learning and physical disabilities early (68.8%); and making high-quality child care (61.7%) and preschool (61.4%) for babies, toddlers and preschoolers available for every California family.

“No matter our differences, Californians believe in our kids. That’s why 20 years ago, they voted to make kids a priority by dedicating resources to our youngest Californians through First 5,” said Kim Belshé, Executive Director of First 5 LA, an independent County agency in Los Angeles that advocates for programs and polices benefiting children through age 5. “We must redouble this commitment to the well-being and development of our kids by calling on our next governor to prioritize them in policy and budget decisions. The choices our next governor makes will shape the future of our children and State.”

The poll’s findings also revealed that California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom continues to lead the field of gubernatorial hopefuls for the June 2018 primary, with 25.6% of likely voters saying they would vote for him, followed by businessman John Cox (16.4%), State Controller John Chiang (9.0%), Assemblyman Travis Allen (8.9%), former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (6.6%) and former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin (5.1%). In a hypothetical general election match-up, Newsom leads Cox 42.0% to 32.2%, and Villaraigosa 38.3% to 20.5%, with 41.3% undecided.

Pollsters also tested voters’ support for a gubernatorial candidate willing to commit and spend state resources to create a system of high-quality, publicly funded childcare and preschool programs, in addition to voters’ willingness to help pay for the programs. In all, voters remained strongly supportive when asked about various cost estimates to support programs that benefit young children: $4 billion-5 billion a year (46.6%); $10 billion per year (46.2%); and $25 billion per year (46.6%). Statewide, a plurality of voters (47.8%) said they would be willing to pay higher taxes to support programs that benefit young children. Among the more popular ways to generate revenues to pay for high-quality, publicly funded childcare and preschool, voters overwhelmingly support dedicating a portion of existing state taxes on marijuana (74.0%), a tax on the purchase of firearms and ammunition (66.7%), increasing taxes on the wealthy (61.9%) and changing the tax structure for commercial and industrial properties (60.2%). 

Finally, Silicon Valley Community Foundation and NBC Bay Area are co-hosting “Decision 2018: The Race for Governor,” the final debate among major candidates running for California governor before the June primary election. The debate will occur on May 8 and will be moderated by Chuck Todd, NBC News’ Political Director and Moderator of “Meet the Press.” SVCF and NBC Bay Area will announce participating candidates at the end of April. The selection of debate participants will, in part, be based on this poll, as well as the averages of other independent statewide polls that were conducted from March 9 to April 16.

J. Wallin Opinion Research and Tulchin Research conducted the survey from Friday, March 30 through Wednesday, April 4, 2018, of likely June 2018 primary election voters throughout the state of California. Eight hundred (800) respondents were interviewed using live, professional interviewers, speaking Spanish and English languages and calling both mobile and landlines (52.4% of responses were completed on mobile phones). A survey of this size yields a margin of error of +/-3.7% (95% confidence interval). The sample is stratified, meaning that the demographic composition of the results matches the demographic composition of the region and turnout model surveyed. This project also included an oversample of 200 likely voters within Los Angeles County. 

Choose Children 2018 is a statewide campaign committed to ensuring California’s next governor is a champion for young children who makes early childhood care and education more accessible, affordable, and of higher quality. This initiative is led by Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s Center for Early Learning in partnership with community, business, philanthropic, and educational leaders throughout California. Learn more at www.choosechildren2018.org.

Silicon Valley Community Foundation advances innovative philanthropic solutions to challenging problems. We engage donors and corporations from Silicon Valley, across the country and around the globe to make our region and world better for all. Our passion for helping people and organizations achieve their philanthropic dreams has created a global philanthropic enterprise committed to the belief that possibilities start here. Learn more at www.siliconvalleycf.org.