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