Survey Shows May 19 Propositions in Deep Trouble

SAN
FRANCISCO — Despite the state’s airwaves being plastered by TV
commercials showing firefighters and teachers predicting further
economic disaster for California should Props. 1A through 1F fail, a
majority of likely voters in a poll say they will vote against at
least five of measures during the upcoming May 19 special election.

The poll, conducted by the San Francisco-based Public Policy Institute of California,
was released late Thursday evening and showed that Props. 1A through 1E
were headed for likely defeat. Only Prop. 1F, which prevents lawmakers
from getting salary increases during years when the state budget is in
deficit, appeared headed toward passage.

The ballot
initiatives — the product of a last-minute deal by ranking Democrats
to secure enough Republican votes to pass a months-late state budget —
seemed doomed to failure almost from the start, polls showed. And while
the governor and leading Democratic and Republican leaders have all
consistently urged voters to pass the measures, independent civic
groups, labor unions and political wings of both parties have spoken
out against the initiatives.

“The voters who are really tuned in are really turned off. They see the
state’s budget situation as a big problem, but so far, they don’t like
the solution,” said Mark Baldessare, PPIC’s president and CEO.
“Proposition 1C is the measure that matters most for next year’s
budget, and it’s in the most trouble.”

Specifically, the PPIC poll shows:

–Prop. 1A / Rainy day budget. (52% no, 35% yes, 13% don’t know):
Democrats (47%) are much more likely than independents (32%) and more
than twice as likely as Republicans (22%) to support the measure. Just
7 percent say Proposition 1A would be very effective in avoiding future
budget deficits, and 32 percent say it would be somewhat effective.
Latinos are more likely (45%) than whites (32%) to favor the measure.

–Prop. 1B / Payments to school districts. (47% no, 40% yes, 13% don’t
know): More voters oppose than support this measure to require a future
payment of $9.3 billion to local school districts and community
colleges. Those who are very closely following election news are
opposed, 61 percent to 32 percent. A majority of Democrats (53%) would
vote yes and a majority of Republicans (61%) would vote no. Support for
the measure falls short of a majority in all of the state’s major
regions. Latinos offer more support (56%) than whites (34%).

–Prop. 1C / California lottery modernization. (58% no, 32% yes, 10%
don’t know): A solid majority oppose this measure, which would
modernize the lottery and allow the state to borrow $5 billion from
future profits to help balance the 2009-2010 budget. Opposition is even
stronger among voters who are following election news closely (65% no,
29% yes). Majorities in all regions say they’ll vote no, while whites
(63%) are more likely than Latinos (42%) to say they will vote no.

–Prop. 1D / Removes early childhood education funds. (45% no, 43% yes,
12% don’t know): Voters are divided on this measure that would
temporarily transfer funds from early childhood education programs to
help balance the state budget. A majority of Democrats (54%) support
the measure, and a majority of Republicans (56%) oppose it. Opponents
(49%) outnumber supporters (39%) among independents. A majority of
those following election news very closely are opposed (57% no, 35%
yes). Latinos (66%) are much more likely than whites (36%) to be in
favor.

–Prop. 1E / Removes money from mental health programs. (48% no, 41%
yes, 11% don’t know): More voters oppose than support this measure to
transfer money from mental health services to the general fund to help
balance the state budget. Support falls short of a majority across
major regions of the state. A majority of Latinos (63%) would vote yes,
while most whites (54%) would vote no. Voters who are very closely
following election news oppose Proposition 1E by a wider margin (61%
no, 35% yes).

–Prop. 1F / Prevents lawmakers from getting raises during deficit
years. (73% yes, 24% no, 3% don’t know): Although support for the
measure has slipped, at least two in three voters across all the
state’s major regions and strong majorities across demographic groups
say they would vote yes. Among those closely following the election, 62
percent would vote yes and 36 would vote no.

The poll results were embargoed by PPIC until 10 p.m. last Thursday. At that
minute political reporters across the state began receiving e-mails
from the governor’s California Budget Reform Now campaign,
which has been leading the charge to get the measures passed. The
e-mail and the wall-to-wall TV advertising confirm the political
capital that’s been placed on the line with these troubled measures.

In last Thursday night’s e-mail, California Budget Reform Now called on Jeannine English, state president of the American Association of Retired Persons to herald the potential doom if Props. 1A through 1F fail at the polls.

“While voters are frustrated, they are starting to recognize that it is
our children, public safety officers, older citizens, firefighters and
the most vulnerable among us who will suffer the most should these
measures fail, not the politicians in Sacramento. We will be working
day and night to communicate to voters in the coming weeks that
supporting Props 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E and 1F is a vote to prevent these
deep cuts and take a step toward improving the state’s fiscal
situation….” English said in a statement.

The poll was based on a telephone survey of 2,005 adult Californians
from April 27-May 4. The margin of error for all respondents is plus or
minus 2 percent. The error rate for the 1,080 likely voters polled is
plus or minus 3 percent.

Follow Jeff Mitchell’s political journalism at BAPolitix.org