The headlines from the new Public Policy Institute of California poll will emphasize that five of the six measures (everything but 1F, the populist blast on legislative pay, which has a huge lead) on the May 19 special election ballot are in a deep trouble. But a look at the PPIC numbers suggests there’s reason to believe that all six could pass.
Propositions 1D and 1E are in the best position of the five troubled measures. They have leads, though neither measure has 50 percent support. That has a good chance of changing when Republicans learn more about the measures. Right now, Republicans oppose measures to take away spending from these programs. Since Republicans tended to oppose the initiatives (Prop 10 and Prop 63) that created these programs, it’s likely that when they learn the history, enough Republicans will support these measures to get them over the line.
Prop 1C would seem to be in the biggest hole, with just 37 percent support and 50 percent opposed. But there’s big money and political expertise (top Democratic and union consultants) backing the measure, and no funded opposition. It’s a safe bet that voters oppose this because they support education and see the lottery as a significant funding source for education. If that well-funded campaign can explain to Californians that the lottery doesn’t do all that much for education, this measure could squeak through.
Props 1A and 1B should be contemplated as one entity – because they’re legally linked. 1B has a narrow lead – 44 to 41 – but there’s reason to be hopeful. 1B would boost education spending, which is popular. The state’s powerful education lobby is pushing hard, and it’s likely the measure will gain. Will it be enough? It depends on whether Democratic and Decline to State voters, who support the measure, turn out in large enough numbers.
The high-profile 1A may be in the toughest position, even though its numbers – 39 yes, 46 percent no – are a little better than 1C’s in the latest polling. Winning this will be an uphill battle. Two things are necessary.
1. Given the poll’s findings that of low approval ratings for Gov. Schwarzenegger and the legislature, the governor and legislative leaders need to stay off TV and let interest groups – particularly representatives of law enforcement, teachers, and firefighters – lead the way in this campaign.
And 2. Supporters need to convince the public that the measure will prevent future crises. That’s hard—the public has repeatedly been sold spending limits that would fix the state’s problems, and yet here we are. I’d like to see a campaign heavy on charts. And given President Obama’s popularity, the campaign also should make hay of the president’s statement of support for the measure during a town hall last week in Southern California.
A prediction? 1D and 1E will pass. 1C will narrowly lose. 1B will win, but it won’t take effect because of the defeat of 1A, which is likely to be a victim of conservative anger at tax increases.
That will leave the state with a bigger budget hole. So those of you who work in the Capitol who thought that a February budget made it safe to take summer vacation? Cancel those reservations. It’s going to be a long, hot summer.