So Cal Crazy About Fox, Mixed on Mexico
New Poll Finds Strong Divisions on Open Border, Impact on
IRVINE, CA - Voters in Orange and San Diego
County widely recognize and hold favorable views of Mexican
President Vicente Fox, but remain deeply divided on his policy
to open the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a new independent
poll released Thursday.
Overall, Fox enjoys wide recognition by the
public, with 81% of voters in San Diego County and 75% of
voters in Orange County saying they are familiar with the
new Mexican president. Among Latino voters in San Diego, Fox
is as well known as California Governor Gray Davis and better
known than San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy. In Orange County,
87% of Latino voters have heard of Fox, while 75% have heard
of the County Board of Supervisors.
Fox Viewed Favorably by All, Strongest Base
Are 35-49 Male Voters
Among those who know Fox, 76% of San Diego County
voters and 70% of Orange County voters say they have a favorable
view of him. Fewer than 7% in both counties have an unfavorable
Fox's popularity is highest among male voters,
of all ethnic backgrounds. Mexican American men, particularly
those under age 50, hold the most strongly favorable views
Significant Differences on Importance of
Relations with Mexico, Other Issues
The poll asked voters about a series of issues
facing local officials in Orange County and San Diego County
and which they felt was "top priority". The results
reveal important differences between Mexican Americans and
white voters, with higher proportions of Mexican American
voters in both counties naming health care, jobs, affordable
housing and improving ethnic relations as top priorities.
Nearly half of all Mexican American voters in
San Diego and more than 1 in 3 in Orange County say relations
with Mexico should be a top priority for local officials.
Yet fewer than 1 in 4 white voters agree. Among Mexican Americans,
the issue of relations with Mexico are most important among
those who are less affluent, older and have lived in the United
States for a relatively short time.
Open Border Proposal Reveals Big Differences
The biggest differences found in the poll come
on Fox's proposal to create an open border between the US
Overall, voters in both counties oppose the
proposal. Opposition is highest in Orange County, where 58%
of voters oppose opening the border and 33% support it. In
San Diego, opposition is slightly lower, with 52% opposing
the plan and 37% supporting it.
But among Mexican American voters in both counties,
the poll finds the opposite: 53% in Orange County support
the idea, while 52% percent in San Diego back the plan. Latino
voters, generally, are more divided on the issue (49% to 44%
in OC; 49% to 43% in SD).
The poll finds age and party lines as having
the most impact on a voter's position. Voters over 65 and
registered Republicans - both White and Latino - are most
likely to be opposed to opening the border. Among Mexican
Americans, men are generally divided on the issue while women
tend to favor it.
The survey finds that views on Fox have some
influence on how voters see the open border issue. But even
among those who have favorable views of the President, a majority
in both counties still oppose opening the border.
"Fox's charisma and reform proposals are
opening the arms and minds of voters," said Dr. Christian
Collet, director of the poll. "But it will take some
time before he is able to open the border."
SD Voters See Open Border as Benefit for
Local Economy; OC Voters Say It Will Harm Them
In contrast to their views on opening the border,
a plurality of San Diego County voters say the proposal would
be a benefit for the local economy. Overall, 47% say opening
the border would be a good thing for the local economy, with
17% percent saying it would be a "very good" thing.
While Latino voters generally believe an open border would
benefit the economy, white voters are almost equally divided,
41%-43%. Sixteen percent are unsure.
In Orange County, however, voters tend to see
an open border as potentially harmful to their economy. Fifty-two
percent of all OC voters say they believe an open border would
be a "bad thing" for the Orange County economy,
while just 32% say it would be a "good thing."
Overall, voters in both counties see Mexico
as being the greater beneficiary of an open border. White
and Latino voters again differ on the issue, with 54% of white
voters in San Diego County and 52% in Orange County saying
Mexico would benefit more. By contrast, pluralities of Latinos
in Orange County and San Diego County say both countries would
About The Pacific Poll and Pacific Opinions
The Pacific Poll, of a random sample of 1,051
registered voters in San Diego County and Orange County, was
administered by telephone between January 14th and 23rd, 2001.
Conducted in English and Spanish, the poll includes interviews
with 503 self-identified Latinos, 410 of whom were self-identified
Mexican Americans. The margin of sampling error for the entire
sample is approximately +/- 3.1 percentage points. For the
San Diego and Orange County samples, the error is approximately
+/-4.5 percentage points. Sampling error is just one potential
error in opinion surveys; results can be affected by other
factors such as question wording and order.
Pacific Opinions is an independent research
company based in Irvine, California who conducts polls and
survey research for private-sector clients and non-profit
organizations. Christian Collet, Ph.D. is the senior partner
of Pacific Opinions and a political scientist at University
of California, Irvine. Jeanett Castellanos, Ph.D., a lecturer
in the Department of Chicano and Latino Studies at University
of California, Irvine, consulted Pacific Opinions on this
The Pacific Poll is a public-interest research
project funded by Pacific Opinions. It is conducted regularly
on social and political issues in the diverse communities
of Orange County and San Diego.