In the press release accompanying the newly released Public Policy Institute of California poll, PPIC President Mark Baldassare attributes the drop in support for the Proposition 29 tobacco tax to “how a well-funded opposition is able to raise voters’ doubts and distrust in state government, even when a tax increase is viewed favorably.” No question drawing attention to a ballot measure is highlighted by an extensive advertising campaign, but it takes more than commercials to move voters – the issues involved in the initiative count.

If money is all it took to win a policy argument both PG&E and Mercury Insurance would have celebrated ballot victories in June 2010. The insurance company outspent opponents ten to one in trying to pass a measure to give discounts to auto insurance policy holders that wanted to change companies. PG&E had a more one-sided campaign in hoping to convince voters to require a two-thirds vote from the public before a public agency could enter into the retail power business. The utility company spent over $46-million; opponents spent less than $100,000. Yet, both measures were defeated.

The PPIC poll shows Proposition 29 with a 53% Yes vote and a 42% No vote, a drop of 14% on the Yes side since the question was polled in March. The ads for the No side have featured concerns about the details of the initiative. The ads on the Yes side attack “big tobacco” trying to achieve an emotional response, but spend little time discussing the points of the initiative.

These issues matter to the voters as well as the outside observers such as newspaper editorialists. The Los Angeles Times editorial urging a No vote on Prop 29, made a point to state it was against tobacco but still examined the issues contained in the initiative and found flaws.

Anyone will tell you that it is better to have the resources to get your word out in a political campaign. But ultimately, the effects of a measure are what voters consider when marking their ballot.

You can find the poll results here.