Poll: Californians Losing Confidence in Gov. Davis

By Mark Mead | July 7, 2008 | 8:27pm EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Amidst rolling blackouts and spiraling electric costs, most Californians disapprove of the way their Democratic governor is handling the energy crisis, a new statewide survey finds.

The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released a survey this week that shows Gov. Gray Davis' public approval rating at 46 percent - a drop of 17 points in just four months.

The study also indicates that a mere 29 percent of California residents approve of the way Davis is handling the ongoing energy crisis.

But Davis insists he has done his part in managing the state's problem. Last week in a radio address he deflected blame away from himself and towards President George Bush.

"With all due respect," Davis said, "I urge you to stand up to your friends in the energy business and exercise the federal government's exclusive responsibility to ensure energy prices are reasonable."

The PPIC survey found Bush holds a 57 percent approval rating among Californians - 11 percent higher than Davis. In addition, the survey noted that only 8 percent of people in California place blame on the Bush administration for the state electricity crisis.

California Republican Party Chairman, Shawn Steel, concurs with these results.

"Our president has done everything in his power to accommodate the Davis administration," Steel said. "The simple fact is, Davis doesn't know how to lead us out of this crisis."

Even some state Democrats are upset with Davis' performance. Some 52 percent of registered California Democrats, the survey says, disapprove of Davis' job in handling the crisis.

"Davis really has problems," a spokesman for the state GOP commented. "It's going to be tough to dig himself out of a hole like that. And he's taken all the statewide Democrats with him. That's why they're all stepping away from him a bit."

Many Democrats who dissented objected to Davis' strong stance on price caps, which would prevent energy companies to charge the market price for electricity, natural gas, and gasoline.

Democrat Jim Hoecker, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission during the Clinton administration, objected to Davis' price cap proposals in an April 23 Los Angeles Times article.

"Price caps have a lot of problems associated with them," Hoecker said. "They don't tend to be effective, and they deter some companies from participating in the market."

The PPIC survey reported only 8 percent of Californians support such price cap measures.

Nevertheless, Davis has been persistent in his support of price restrictions.

"Without short term price relief," he says, "the crisis here in California and the West will spill over and damage the already-sluggish national economy."

An invitation sent to Bush for a private meeting with Davis was accepted Thursday. The governor is hoping to persuade the president to support price cap measures.

"I'm asking the president to be creative, to put ideology aside," Davis said Thursday.

Davis said he was asking Bush "to sit with me and see if we can't find a way to help the good people of this state who have contributed disproportionately to the economic growth of this country and disproportionately to the technological productivity of America."

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