California On "Wrong Track"—But Why?
July 30, 2005, 05:00 AM
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According to the results of a Field Poll released on June 28th, 59 percent of Californians think that the state is "seriously off on the wrong track." Only 28 percent think that California is headed in the right direction.

As a native-born Californian, my first question: who is this 28 percent who think California has a bright future?

None of my friends, that's for sure.

Everyone I know is so disgusted with life in California that they dream of leaving.

Once considered to be the land of milk and honey, California is now synonymous with overcrowding, traffic, gangs, the high cost of living, exorbitant taxes, the country's highest gas prices, sprawl, rotten schools, air pollution—and, of course, illegal immigration, which has exacerbated all of the above.

California's good weather can only overcome so much. Sunny days and balmy nights don't offset the problems created by 60 new people in the state every hour.

To me, the poll's real surprise is what its participants—463 randomly selected subjects—pointed to as the reasons for California's decline.

When asked the open-ended question as to why the state is performing poorly, the most common answer was: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's failures (28 percent).

The second most popular reply: the collective failures of other elected officials (27 percent).

Listed seventh—shocking to me—was "immigration, borders not under control" (6 percent).

Of course, the June Field Poll does translate into very bad news for Schwarzenegger's re-election prospects. And, to make matters worse for the governor, his popularity has eroded even further in July.

But more importantly to VDARE.COM readers is what that 6 percent figure may mean for those of us who fight to limit immigration into California.

By examining the data, a very different, more realistic picture about immigration in California emerges.

Six percent does not reflect immigration's true significance to Californians.

Consider that each of the five categories the Field Poll ranked above "immigration, borders not under control" as more serious California problems is directly and negatively impacted by immigration.

They are:

  • "Schools performing poorly" (3rd, 21 percent). Of course schools are doing a lousy job! With 1.5 million English language learners enrolled in the California K-12 public school system and more added each day, teachers cannot possibly do their jobs efficiently. The educational needs of native English-speaking children fall by the wayside as English language learners are coddled. And non-English speakers have a tough time catching up.

  • "Not enough jobs/economy isn't good/wages are low" (4th; 9 percent). That's right, too. But again, consider illegal immigration's role. Aliens work off the books at a wage that Americans wouldn't consider. VDARE.COM's Edwin S. Rubenstein has analyzed in depth the displacement of American workers by immigrants. See his most recent piece, "Immigrant Displacement of American Workers Hit a New High in May."  Rubenstein emphasizes that illegal aliens don't appear on payroll and household surveys even though they are employed.


  • "High cost of living" (5th; 7 percent). In California, like all other states, taxpayers support non-workers who receive social services. The difference is that California has so many illegal immigrants. When you add up the costs of underwriting education, medical care and incarceration to aliens, the sum is well into the billions.  When tax revenues can't cover the bills, the state borrows. No wonder the workingman gripes about the cost of California living.

Proof of immigration's deleterious effect on California is everywhere. It's why the Sacramento Bee's respected columnist Daniel Weintraub has said that illegal immigration

"…sits just below the surface of almost every major issue in California, from education to health care and the state's deteriorated infrastructure." [Recall Election is Generating Random Acts of Politics, August 19 2003

I asked Steve Sailer, VDARE.COM's in-house expert on marketing research, for his view of why the Field Poll produced the results it did:

Said Sailer:

"The answers all depend on what's come before the open-ended question—the introduction the pollster gives, the previous questions, etc. Different ways of conducting the survey would give different answers.

Also, lots of people don't want to bring up immigration first, especially if the pollster might be an immigrant, and get offended. Or people may know this poll is associated with the liberal LA Times, so they try to be liberal."

The best way to find out what Americans think about immigration is to ask the question directly.

The Opinion Dynamics Poll for Fox News conducted the most recent survey (April 25-26, 2005) about the effect of illegal immigration in the U.S.

The question:

"How serious a problem do you believe the illegal or undocumented immigration problem is in the United States today? Do you see it as a very serious problem, somewhat serious, not very serious or not at all a serious problem?"

The answer, just as we would all predict: 91 percent of those polled think that illegal immigration is a "serious" problem.  No less than 63 percent thought it was "very serious."

Californians are way past the point where we can be convinced through a contrived poll that illegal immigration is a minor issue.

The next time I'm at a gathering of ten or more people, I'll ask about immigration.

My money says that I'll get the same response that Fox News did: nine of 10 are fed up and want immediate change.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.