UPDATE: Thanks to your generous donations, the first ever comprehensive, scientific poll about California independence will start on Monday, Feb. 5.
Please consider becoming a sustaining supporter so we can take on more big projects like this in the future!
We’re going to run the first comprehensive, scientific poll about California independence, and we need your help to fund it.
As you probably know, California is already a quasi-country in the eyes of the world: we’re the 5th largest economy, we conduct our own foreign policy on climate change, and the word “California” means something to people all over the Earth.
But we’re also enmeshed in a federal system that treats us as “just another state,” leaving us massively under-represented in our “national” government and siphoning our public money away to states whose voters have more political power.
Polling on California independence mostly disappeared after the November 2016 election. But not entirely. When we looked through the data for two national polls run by Bright Line Watch in 2021, we noticed out of the 450 or so Californians they interviewed, 38% supported California seceding from the U.S. to join a new union with Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska.
If we had solid proof that so many Californians are still so independence-minded that we’re willing to secede from the U.S., that would have a seismic impact on California politics. Here are just a few of the things our elected officials could accomplish if they knew Californians wanted it:
- get Californians more direct control over how our federal tax dollars are spent
- transfer most federal land in California to state or local government
- get the federal government out of the water allocation business
- create a path to California citizenship to cover the 15% of California adults that aren’t U.S. citizens
- secure our state borders to keep out illegal guns
- pull California out of federal programs like the Highway Trust Fund that do little more than siphon away our tax dollars to small states
- reform California’s system of government to work more like other modern democracies
- have California’s government make a “Plan B” about what California should do if Trump becomes President of the U.S. in January 2025
That’s why we’re running the first comprehensive, scientific poll on California independence. We’re going to be partnering with YouGov, a reputable polling company, and the same company that ran the Bright Line Watch polls in 2021.
It costs about $12 to reach a random Californian and get them to spend several minutes answering questions. And we need to contact at least 500 Californian adults to get statistically meaningful results. But it’s worth every penny.
Here are some of the things we’ll be able to learn from this poll:
Whether Californians think we’d be better off as our own country. Unlike other polls that use secession as a proxy for how messed up people think the U.S. is, we’re asking Californians to think of independence as a real thing we could negotiate, and then decide if we like it.
Which Californians support independence the most? What demographic groups are most likely to support secession? Does it matter if people were born in California?
How Californians’ sense of our own identity intersects with our desire for independence. Do you feel more Californian or more American? Can you imagine wanting to live in another U.S. state? How does that affect your desire for independence?
How Californians think independence would impact issues they care about. We’ll be asking Californians to consider how secession would impact immigration, trade, water, gun violence, and more. And then we’ll ask if thinking about independence on an issue-by-issue basis changes their mind about whether California should be independent.
How far Californians are willing to go. If Californians aren’t on board with full-scale secession, would they support California having a special autonomous status within the U.S.? If not, would they at least support giving California control over federal land and water infrastructure?
Throughout our poll we emphasize when we talk about California leaving the U.S., we mean as part of a peaceful process of negotiation with Congress.
If you’d get an idea what kinds of questions we’re going to ask, check out our draft independence survey. (This is just a draft! We’re continuing to improve our poll questions based on your feedback and suggestions from the experts at YouGov.)
High quality polling doesn’t come cheap. We need $6,000 to run this poll. ICI currently has $3,000 to spend on the poll, and we need to raise the other $3,000 from donors like you. In other words, we need to raise enough money to reach 250 more Californians.
If you could donate just $12, that would take us one Californian closer to reaching our goal. And if you’re feeling generous, you could donate $60 to reach five Californians, or $120 to reach ten. All donations to the Independent California Institute are fully tax-deductible.
If we raise extra money, we’ll include more Californians in the poll, giving us a finer-grained, more accurate understanding of Californians’ state of mind on the question of independence.
Once our poll is complete, we’re going to release all the raw data, so anyone can learn how Californians feel about independence.
Feel free to share this appeal with other people, and please, email me directly if you have any questions. I’d also be happy to set aside time to chat on the phone with anyone who’s seriously considering donating.
Thank you for your consideration. And here’s to a better, more independent future for all Californians!
Coyote Codornices Marin
Executive Director, Independent California Institute