These issues matter to Inland Empire voters in November 2022 election – San Bernardino Sun

If the polls are right, Grace Thompson speaks for a plurality of Inland Empire voters.

“(People) want a good economy before all the other things that they want to do,” said Thompson, a 57-year-old court reporter from Riverside’s Orangecrest neighborhood. “People want to be able to pay less to put gas in their tank (and pay) less at the grocery store. A lot of our leaders are looking at other things and not that.”

But if pollsters are off, the average voter might sound more like Leila Moshref-Danesh.

“In my mind, whether I pay $2.99 or $4.99 a gallon is not really going to matter if we don’t have a democracy anymore,” the 37-year-old lawyer from Highgrove said.

Thompson, a Republican, and Moshref-Danesh, a no-party-preference voter, both plan to vote in the Nov. 8 general election, which may be determined by what’s foremost on voters’ minds come ballot-casting time.

A Public Policy Institute of California poll conducted in May found 42% of Inland-area adults and 1 in 3 Californians mentioned jobs, the economy and inflation or gas prices as the most important issue facing the state. While 50% of those polled said California was heading in the wrong direction, the number rose to 72% among Inland-area respondents.

Pocketbook issues “always come to the forefront in times of economic uncertainty, even more so for independent voters,” Marcia Godwin, a professor of public administration at the University of La Verne, said via email.

“For the Inland Empire, though, we are probably looking at relatively mild effects on election outcomes. It may be more in the nature of capping support for Democrats or making a difference in swing districts.”

Across California, 47% of voters were registered Democrats as of late May compared to 24% for Republicans, secretary of state numbers show.

The gap narrows in the Inland Empire.

Going into June, Democrats made up 41% of voters in Riverside and San Bernardino counties while 32% of Riverside County voters and 29% of San Bernardino County voters were Republicans.

Democrats have won several competitive Inland-area races since 2012, and Democratic presidential candidates have carried Riverside and San Bernardino counties since 2008. But Riverside County was the largest county in California to vote in favor of recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom and reelected a conservative sheriff in June.

Compared to coastal counties, “the inland parts of the state — the Inland Empire as well as the Central Valley — are less progressive,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley IGS poll. “Although still leaning Democratic, they’re more moderate and it’s a more competitive area when you’re looking at local elections and elections for Assembly and Congress as well.”

As the party in power in Washington, D.C., Democrats are expected to lose control of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate in November as inflation-weary voters take out frustrations at the ballot box.

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