California faces a host of difficult, long-term challenges in housing, transportation, water and climate, education, jobs and business, governance reform and other areas. Policy issues are complicated enough, but when one tries to think about them over the long-term, the considerations become even more complex. This project, California Considers: Policy Deliberations for our Long-term Success, will present detailed results on 56 proposed policy options, both in terms of conventional polling and in terms of what a representative sample of more than 700 California residents, gathered together virtually to deliberate in depth from all over the state, think about these policy choices. The result is a Deliberative Poll®, a poll before and after a representative sample deliberates in depth. A separate sample, a control group that did not deliberate answered the same questions in the same time period. Hence the result is an unprecedented experiment probing public opinion about the state’s many long-term challenges.
The Deliberative Poll® was conducted by the Stanford Deliberative Democracy Lab, DDL, (housed within the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, part of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University), in collaboration with the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the California 100 Initiative. DDL has been involved in more than 120 Deliberative Polls® in 50 countries around the world, but never to probe the public’s considered judgments about the policy challenges of the further future. The deliberations took place on the Stanford Online Deliberation Platform, an AI-assisted form of moderation designed in collaboration with the Crowdsourced Democracy Team at Stanford and its director Professor Ashish Goel of Management Science and Engineering. The deliberations in moderated small group discussions on video in groups of 10 took place over an entire weekend, or during the week, for periods of equivalent length.
The deliberations took place over four sessions during either the weekend or weekday, in the months of February and March. Participants met in moderated small group discussions on video in groups of 10 for periods of equivalent length. After deliberation on the policy proposals, the 700 expressed their conclusions in confidential questions. After considering all the pros and cons, there was supermajority support for ensuring adequate funding for infrastructure for roads and digital broadband, for vouchers for low-income access to public transit, for incentives for the creation of affordable housing, and new support for K-12 education. There was also significantly increased support for reform of CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) and for increasing the threshold by which the state constitution can be changed with an initiative (from majority support to a requirement of 60%). A detailed report can be found here.
“There have been 120 Deliberative Polls® around the world. But this is the first to focus on the policy challenges of the further future,” shared Professor James Fishkin, Director of DDL. “The deliberators weighed many difficult trade-offs and came up with thoughtful judgments about what needs to be done. They clearly envisioned a future for California that is more sustainable, equitable and governable—and they thought about how to get there.”
"This Deliberative Poll® allowed Californians from across the state to listen to each other and learn from each other's experiences. Participants found that even though they may live in different parts of the state, have different jobs, or different lifestyles, their opinions on many of the policy issues are not so different. And, that they share the same concerns and worries for the state," added Alice Siu, Associate Director of DDL.
“California Considers shows that Californians are worried, upset, and unsure about California’s future, but they also felt more hopeful, curious, and energized about the future following deliberations where they got a chance to make concrete proposals to solve California’s problems. There are many novel findings from this exercise that merit deeper exploration, to help California address its looming challenges,” said Henry Brady, Director of Research for California 100.
“The California Considers Deliberative Poll® presented a representative sample of over 700 Californians with policy ideas that could transform our state’s direction in the long-term,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, executive director of California 100. “Rather than simply getting their initial perspectives and taking them at face value, participants read briefing materials, deliberated with each other and experts, then revisited their positions to see what they concludedafter becoming better informed. What we found is that, in many instances, Californians from different backgrounds coalesced around common ideas seen as helping our state become more transparent, efficient, and innovative.”
About Stanford’s Deliberative Democracy Lab
The Deliberative Democracy Lab at Stanford University is housed within the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, part of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. DDL is devoted to research about democracy and public opinion obtained through Deliberative Polling®. The method of Deliberative Polling® has been used in over 50 countries and jurisdictions around the world through over 120 projects, at varying levels of government and society.
About California 100
California 100 is a transformative statewide initiative focused on inspiring a vision and strategy for California’s next century that is innovative, sustainable, and equitable. The initiative is incubated at the University of California and Stanford, and is guided by an expert and intergenerational Commission.
The mission of California 100 is to strengthen California’s ability to collectively solve problems and shape our long-term future—through research, policy innovation, advanced technology, and engagement—by identifying, mobilizing, and supporting champions for innovative and equitable solutions.
About the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy
The Goldman School of Public Policy is a graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley that prepares students for careers in public leadership. As a professional school of public policy grounded in scholarly practice, the Goldman School mobilizes the rich intellectual resources of the UC Berkeley campus to provide a transformational academic and cultural experience that instills standards of excellence and a deep sense of pride in one’s work, learning community, peers, and academic home. It is ranked one of the top three public policy schools in the world according to U.S. News and World Report.
Goldman School faculty represent the top researchers in their respective fields, which include economics, political science, law, social psychology, and engineering. Their expertise ranges from education policy to racial profiling to clean energy. As teachers, they are dedicated to training tomorrow's policy leaders. As researchers, their work is shaping public policy today.