Poll: California voters offer mixed views on death penalty, sanctuary laws, horse racing

Californians’ opinions are sharply divided about the death penalty and sanctuary-city policies, but they’re in broad agreement that climate change is a problem and President Trump’s threat to close the border with Mexico is a bad idea, according to a poll released Thursday, April 11.

The Quinnipiac University Poll asked 1,005 California voters April 3-8 about several familiar issues and a few new ones, including views of horse racing in the wake of 23 horses’ deaths in three months at Santa Anita.

The poll found that 48% of Californians prefer that people convicted of murder receive life in prison with no chance for parole, while 41% prefer that they get the death penalty. But in what seems like a contradiction, 46% oppose Gov. Gavin Newsom’s suspension of the death penalty, while 44% support Newsom’s policy.

Newsom’s mid-March order suspending executions in California has been controversial in part because critics say it defied the will of voters expressed in recent ballot initiatives regarding capital punishment.

The poll, which has a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points, found state residents also are divided about so-called sanctuary cities, with 46% saying cities “should be able to deal with immigrants as they see fit,” and 47% saying cities should be “forced to comply with federal immigration efforts.”

By an overwhelming margin of 70% to 23%, Californians said they oppose closing the southern border, something Trump has threatened to do if Mexico doesn’t halt illegal immigration to the United States, the poll found.

Also by a solid margin, 63% to 33%, state voters told the pollsters that climate change is “an emergency.” But few were getting behind the Green New Deal, with 16% stating support, 27% opposition and 56% no opinion yet about the environmental and economic policy package proposals sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.

When asked by pollsters about major statewide officials, voters expressed more approval than disapproval — but hardly majority support — for Newsom (40%-33%), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (47%-37%) and Sen. Kamala Harris (47%-30%), who is running for president.

Democrats and Republicans differed dramatically on most questions. Among GOP voters only, 68% support the death penalty over life in prison, 88% oppose sanctuary cities, 59% favor closing the border, 75% say climate change is not an emergency, and 75% disapprove of Newsom’s job performance three months into his term.

It was “no surprise” that members of the two major parties were so polarized, said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll.

The poll was the first to ask Californians for their opinions about horse racing since an unusually high number of fatal injuries to horses in races and workouts prompted Santa Anita Park in Arcadia to interrupt racing for most of March. The deaths have drawn state and county investigations, and brought calls from Feinstein and Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, for Santa Anita to halt racing pending those findings.

Asked if Newsom should create an independent panel to investigate the deaths of racehorses, 55% said yes and 35% said no, according to the poll.

Asked about their general views on horse racing, 19% said they were favorable and 20% unfavorable, while 59% expressed no opinion.

Reacting to the high percentage with no opinion, advocates on both sides saw an opportunity to sway the public.

“It’s no surprise to us that only 19% of California voters have a favorable view of racing,” said Kathy Guillermo, senior vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which favors banning horse racing. “More have an unfavorable view, and the majority don’t even care enough to have an opinion about it.”

Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said the poll shows “we have work to do to educate the public concerning our commitment to the safety of the horse.”

The poll focusing on California was the second this week by Quinnipiac, which is in Connecticut.

A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday asked California Democrats about the 2020 presidential race, finding Joe Biden is the choice of 26%, Bernie Sanders 18% and Harris 17%.

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Former Cal State Fullerton student among remaining contestants on u2018American Idolu2019

Effie Passero, who studied opera and theater at CSUF in 2009, has made it into the top 24 contestants on the current season of “American Idol.”

Passero, 26, is an assistant property manager from Modesto.

On a recent episode, the singer-songwriter belted out Heart’s “Alone,” which left judge Luke Bryan clapping and prompted a standing ovation from judge Katy Perry.

Passero will compete next on April 15 and 16, when the field will be narrowed to 14 and viewers can vote on their favorites.rn

Climate change, symmetry are focus of undergrads’ winning projects

rnCameron Hooper’s research on how atmospheric aerosol particles affect climate change has won him a Mathematical Association of America outstanding poster award for undergraduate research.

Cal State Fullerton student Cameron Hooper is combining his love of math and chemistry in a research project focusing on the effects of aerosol particles. (Photo courtesy of Cal State Fullerton)
Cal State Fullerton student Cameron Hooper is combining his love of math and chemistry in a research project on the effects of aerosol particles on climate change. (Photo courtesy of Cal State Fullerton)

A research scholar in CSUF’s Graduate Readiness and Access in Mathematics program, Hooper combined math with chemistry to identify atmospherically relevant compounds that might influence climate change. He works with faculty mentors Laura Smith, assistant professor of mathematics, and Paula Hudson, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry

He was one of four student mathematicians from CSUF to be honored at the recent Joint Mathematics Meetings of MAA and the American Mathematical Society in San Diego.

James Shade and Christian Do, mentored by Adam Glesser, associate professor of mathematics, and Matthew Rathbun, assistant professor of mathematics, studied the concept of symmetry, which has a wide variety of applications — from artistic composition to orientation of molecules. The research has potential applications in coding theory, particularly in computer programs that work with symmetries.

Saul Lopez, mentored by Scott Annin, professor of mathematics, studied a “generating set” for an algebraic structure — like building blocks or DNA of a structure — where the entire structure can be constructed from the foundational elements in the generating set. The research could be applied to such fields as computer science and cryptography.

“As a first-generation university student, doing research opened my eyes to a new world in academia — and attending conferences like MAA helped widen that world,” said Lopez.

Over 400 research projects were presented at the national meeting by more than 650 students, from universities including MIT, UCLA, Harvard University and Harvey Mudd College, as well as California State University campuses.rn

Faculty members share expertise on dance, human rights, vinyl

rnCal State Fullerton faculty members are traveling the world sharing their expertise and research on varied topics.

Alvin Rangel, associate professor of theatre and dance, is helping develop a Horton technique curriculum for the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association Dance College in New South Wales, Australia. In February, Rangel taught techniques to the students and conducted training sessions for faculty. The Horton technique draws on diverse indigenous dances and emphasizes an anatomical approach. He also established a multimedia archive that includes videos featuring CSUF students.

Alvin Rangel, left, associate professor of theater and dance, is helping develop a dance curriculum based on the Horton technique at NAISDA Dance College in Australia. (Photo courtesy of Cal State Fullerton)
Alvin Rangel, left, associate professor of theater and dance, is helping develop a dance curriculum based on the Horton technique at NAISDA Dance College in Australia. (Photo courtesy of Cal State Fullerton)

Rangel was recently recognized among “10 contemporary black choreographers we should know” by ArtsBoston.

Tenzin Dorjee, associate professor of human communications studies, traveled to Myanmar as a commissioner for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He also testified in Washington, D.C., before the Congressional Executive Commission on China on “Tibet ‘From All Angles’: Protecting Human Rights, Defending Strategic Access, and Challenging China’s Export of Censorship Globally as a USCIRF Commissioner.”

In late February, Jesse Battan, professor of American studies, presented the paper “From Fourier to Freud: Changing Conceptions of ‘Sexual Revolution’ in the United States, 1820-1930” at a conference sponsored by the International Network for Sexual Ethics and Politics and the Center for Ethics and Value Inquiry in Ghent, Belgium.

Waleed Rashidi, assistant professor of communications, presented a paper “Reading Between the Lines: A Content Analysis of 1990s Independent and Alternative Rock Vinyl Records’ Run-Out Grove Etchings” at an Association of Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference. He presented his work in progress “Play, Rewind, Play Again: Experience of Millennials’ Usage of the Cassette Tape as Music Media” at the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association’s summit.rn

— Wendy Fawthrop

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