“The chillest secession poll ever”—Read the script!

YouGov is about two-thirds of the way through collecting data for The Independent Californian Poll, and we should have results for you all in the next couple of weeks!

I wanted to share the script for this poll so you could get a sense of how different our poll is from other polls that have asked Americans about secession. This is pretty much the chillest secession poll ever—we don’t ask about Trump, American political parties, or the breakdown of the rule of law in the United States. (Something we do mention a couple of times is Canada.)

Why the different tone? Well, for one thing, we’re Californians. We’re also researchers, and the subject of our research is how Californians might get more self-governance and democracy. So when we ask about the various ways Californians’ lives might be better (or worse) if California were an independent country, or if they think California should negotiate a more autonomous status within the U.S., we really want the focus to be on Californians and not how feelings about the state of the United States or hatred for a particular American political party.

A great example of what we’re trying to avoid is this question from the UVA/Project Home Fire Poll:

[Agree or disagree:] The situation in America is such that I would favor [Blue/Red] states seceding from the union to form their own separate country.

The question polled pretty well in summer 2021: 41% of Biden voters and 52% of Trump voters agreed (In fall 2023, it polled about 10% less well.) But what are they really asking here? Is it really about forming a new union or “the situation in America”? Or is it about hyperpartisanship, the stated topic of the poll? Secession, in this poll, is no longer a real thing we could (peacefully) actually do; it’s just a feeling, and a dangerous one at that.

California independence (either in the form of secession or greater autonomy) isn’t just a feeling; its a real solution to California’s persistent democratic deficits within the U.S. Ideally, it’s also at least a partial solution to how gridlocked and dysfunctional the U.S. federal government has become.

Like any big policy change, California independence is only going to be successful if it’s based on facts and serious research. Which is exactly what we hope to accomplish with this scientific, comprehensive poll.