“This is an early warning,” Baldassare said, “of widespread fallout from the housing market crisis. The economic worries are reflected in the top three issues residents listed: immigration, jobs and the economy, and health care. “This combination of concern about immigration and and escalating economic anxieties makes for a highly charged and unpredictable political atmosphere,” Baldassare said, “especially as we head into an election year.” Put another way, voters won’t be going to the Feb. 5 polls in a cheery mood, which could make for a hard sell for proponents of Proposition 93, the ballot initiative to loosen term limits. A plurality of 47 percent to 41 percent supports the measure, though its margin of support continues to shrink. In a Field Poll earlier this year, the initiative was supported by 59 percent of the voters. “I’d say there is a constant trend,” said Kevin Spillane, spokesman for the No on 93 campaign. “The more people know about 93, the less they like about it.” But, voters like the idea of shortening legislators’ potential stay from 14 years to 12, and allowing lawmakers to stay in a single chamber because, Baldassare said, they would be required to make “more efficient use of their time in office” rather than always focusing on the next election. “There is a significant appetite for reforming California’s term limits laws,” said Richard Stapler, spokesman for the Prop. 93 campaign. “We want to put an emphasis on experience to make the Legislature more effective. Voters will understand that.” By a 2-to-1 margin, voters support the concept of term limits. But, they are split – 42 percent support and 46 percent oppose – on whether current term-limited legislators should be able to stay in office until they reach 12 years in the chamber they’re now serving. The poll, which surveyed 2,002 residents, had a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent. The survey of 1,442 registered voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent. [email protected] (916) 441-2101160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champSchwarzenegger’s approval rating improved from 50 percent to 57 percent since the last PPIC poll was taken in September. In the same period, the Legislature saw its approval numbers rise from 34 percent to 41 percent. “They’re giving them an A for effort,” said Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of PPIC. “But, those numbers will be hard to sustain when the governor and Legislature get back in January and are dealing with the economy and the budget deficit.” The good will earned by calling a special session on health care and water storage could evaporate, Baldassare said, if the governor and Legislature fail to forge deals. The looming budget deficit – now estimated at $14 billion – would further sour the public’s mood, depending on how lawmakers approach it. Two-thirds agree with Schwarzenegger’s plan to require state agencies to cut 10 percent from their budgets. And 65 percent say they don’t want the deficit to be solved by tax increases alone. More Californians – 42 percent – prefer spending cuts alone to a mix of taxes and spending cuts – 36 percent. Amid growing concerns about the weakening housing market, 52 percent of California residents worry their own financial circumstances will be hurt. Renters (62 percent) are more likely than homeowners (46 percent) to be concerned. The subprime mortgage crisis and signs of a worsening economy are taking a toll on Californians, who, according to a statewide poll, have lost the optimism with which they began the year. The poll, released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California, shows that 65 percent of residents expect bad economic times in the coming year – up from 39 percent in January. At the same time, Californians’ approval of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, and the Democratic-controlled Legislature has improved, in part because they’re seen as trying to work on issues of importance to voters – such as health care. Nearly all residents – 92 percent – believe the issue of the uninsured is a problem in the state. And a ballot initiative to loosen term limits – whose success could hinge on whether lawmakers pass health-care reform – continues to get the support of voters, though that support is slipping.