The Field Poll out this morning shows Proposition 30, the tax increase initiative, winning by ten points 48 percent Yes, 38 percent No. This is somewhat closer than Field’s September survey that showed Proposition 30 up 51 percent to 36 percent.
These results are better for Proposition 30 than other polls that have shown the yes margin at only four to five points. It also bears mentioning that Field’s final poll in the primary showed the tobacco tax, Proposition 29, passing by 50 to 42 percent, and that measure lost but barely. Generally a tax measure needs about a ten point margin in the final polls to survive on Election Day.
But there is a strange anomaly in this latest Field Poll. It shows that 344 of the 1566 likely voters sampled have already voted. And among these voters, Proposition 30 is winning with 54 percent. It also shows that the measure is doing better among mail ballot voters than Election Day voters.
This does not make any sense. The Field electoral universe is 44 percent Democratic, 34 percent Republican, 22 percent others. There is no reason to question this, it’s a logical breakdown. But the already reported Vote By Mail ballot break down as reported by the counties is 43 percent Democratic, 37 percent Republican. VBM ballots are from older and white voters, with younger and minority voters well below their state average in the already reported voter pool.
What is going on here? If Field is right and the measure is leading handily among the early voters, then it should pass by about 60 percent on Election Day, a huge win for Gov. Jerry Brown and his union supporters. A 60 percent or close to it win for Proposition 30 would also show that the electorate has fundamentally changed in California and the skepticism about tax increases has ended.
It is also possible that Field is simply wrong; if past trends hold, the ten point lead in this survey will tighten considerably on Election Day. But this poll also suggests late movement toward yes on Proposition 30. Since the only thing that has happened in the past week is Brown making a big issue about secret out of state money against Proposition 30, it is quite possible that this issue is resonating with voters and may carry Proposition 30 to victory on November 6.