FRANCISCO—(June 15, 2011)— Ever wondered what Bay Area residents think about
pension reform? How about their trust levels of local, state, and federal
government? Or what they cite as the most crucial issue keeping them awake at
night? Those are some of the questions tackled in the first ever survey
conducted by the Leo T.
McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good at the University of San Francisco (USF). Findings of the survey were released
today and gauge the pulse of residents from across the Bay Area on a range of
- The Economy: The state of
the economy is by far the most pressing issue on the minds of Bay Area
residents. In an open-ended question, more than one-third of those
surveyed listed the economy, employment, or the high cost of living as the
most important problems facing the residents of their community.
Ambivalent about the future, respondents are worried about the economy and
the security of their jobs, but are not wholly pessimistic—with 38% of
respondents indicating that they believe the economy is getting either
“somewhat” or “much” better.
Showing the Bay Area’s liberal leanings, respondents
overwhelmingly preferred improving education and technical training in local
community colleges (86% positive), rather than depending on tax breaks to stimulate
the economy. Surprisingly, the survey found only 12% favored policies that
involved government acquisition of land to be resold to private developers.
Fully 67% of Bay Area respondents oppose what is a standard component of
redevelopment policy. This is a particularly notable finding in light of
current state efforts to drastically alter local redevelopment institutions.
- Trust in Government: With the turbulent economy and recent headlines about
local, state, and national politicians, the McCarthy Center survey
examined how Bay Area citizens viewed all levels of government. Local
government earned highest marks when respondents were asked which form of
government did its job best: Federal (12%), State (6%), County 15%), or
Local (22%). Overall, Bay Area residents seem to want local solutions from
people they trust to help stimulate the economy, without giving up too
much of their own power in the process.
- Pension Reform: On the issue of pension reform, the survey results
showed people are receptive to moderate changes in public employee pension
systems, and want some version of reform, but there is no clear preference
for eliminating the current system entirely.
June 1-7, 2011, The McCarthy Center’s Bay Area Regional Survey is comprised of
nearly 1,200 respondents over the age of 18 in eight Bay Area counties. Those surveyed were randomly selected
from across the Bay Area, representing a full cross-section of age, ethnicity,
and socio-economic standing. Surveys were taken of adult residents in Alameda,
Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Sonoma
counties. In addition to the base sample, the report includes an over-sample of
San Francisco County. Interviews were
conducted in English and Spanish (11% of the sample) and residents were
contacted by landline or cell phone (10% of the sample).
proud of this inaugural survey because it is one of the few public interest
research projects that focuses entirely on the Bay Area,” said Corey Cook,
associate professor of politics and director of the Leo T. McCarthy Center for
Public Service and the Common Good at USF. “Because of the diverse nature of
the Bay Area, it is especially important to gather a wide sampling of opinions
from across the region that will help educate and inform our communities. We’ll
be able to better understand how the Bay Area thinks about important public
policy issues, not just as a whole, but down to the city and county level as
McCarthy Center has a keen interest in linking the public with strong academic
work,” said David C. Latterman, associate director of the Public Affairs and
Practical Politics (MoPA) Graduate Program and McCarthy Political Research
Center at the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good.
“We wish to be an integral part of the city and region's public
policy decision making, which comes through knowledge of how stakeholders
think. Because we are of the City, we see it as our duty to add value our
own surroundings with research that can inform and advise.”
LEO T. MCCARTHY CENTER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO
The Leo T.
McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good is dedicated to
inspiring and equipping students at USF to pursue lives and careers of ethical
public service and service to others. The Center provides a non-partisan forum
for education, service and research in public programs and policy-making. It
supports undergraduate and graduate academic programs, including a Masters’
Program in Public Affairs and an undergraduate Minor in Public Service through
curricula that blends rigorous intellectual training with fieldwork experience
prepares students to articulate and promote the common good of all society's
members through careers or service in government, non-profits or the private
sector. Additionally, the McCarthy Center provides community-based learning
opportunities both domestically and abroad and facilitates government
experiences for students.
McCarthy Center values civic engagement and seeks to promote public interest
research that encourages civil discourse and constructive interaction among the
great diversity of residents and officials in the Bay Area. The Center strives
to accomplish its goals by being transparent, nonpartisan and rigorous in
designing its work and products.
in 1855, USF is San Francisco’s oldest university and is consistently ranked as
one of the most ethnically diverse universities in the country. The University
of San Francisco is committed to being a premier Jesuit Catholic, urban
university with a global perspective that educates leaders who will fashion a
more humane and just world. With nearly 9,600 students enrolled both on- and
off-campus, the university offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional
students the knowledge and skills needed to succeed as persons and
professionals, and the values and sensitivity necessary to be men and women for
others. For more information about the University of San Francisco, please
information about the McCarthy Center’s Bay Area Regional Survey, please visit http://www.usfca.edu/centers/mccarthy/.
To request interviews with the research team for this survey, please contact
Anne-Marie Devine, director of Media Relations at USF, at 415.422.2697 or