I invited an ancient Oracle from Delphi to help me decipher what California voters were telling us with their answers to PPIC’s most recent poll of the state’s electorate.

The Oracle laid out the entrails as found in the poll’s questions and answers and crosstabs and thought quietly for a time. A puzzled look came across the Oracle’s face.

She pointed to one set of numbers: “Here it says that 81% of voters say they want to make some of the decisions about spending and taxes. Yet, the tax increase is supported by 56%, not a solid number at this stage, but the cuts triggered by a defeated tax are opposed by 72%.”

Scratching her head, the Oracle continued: “Here we see that 64% are willing to pay more taxes for K-12 education and only 17% would pay higher taxes for prisons and corrections. But, we know from an earlier poll this year voters think that prisons and corrections get the most money from the state budget and K-12 education is lower on the list of state budget funding.”

Even the Oracle knew this was wrong.  “So the voters who demand to make these decisions don’t have all the facts.”

The Oracle delved deeper into the poll results and tapped on my shoulder to get my attention and point out another result. “Look here. Voters say they are willing to raise taxes on the rich by 65% but do not want to raise the sales tax by 58%. Yet, these voters who give an indication that they might favor certain tax increases say loudly by 57% that the state wastes tax dollars. If they think the state wastes so much money why would they want to raise taxes at all?”

“This is confusing,” I said.

“I know,” said the Oracle. “And these next numbers over here don’t help clear things up. According to the poll, voters declare that the biggest problem for the state is jobs and the economy at 52%. Those who mentioned the state budget (14%) and schools (9%) as the top problem are way, way behind. Makes me wonder about those other answers dealing with tax questions.”

“So, mighty Oracle, what does this mean? That voters don’t have the answers? There doesn’t seem to be a clear solution to solve the state’s problems. How can my state get out of this fiscal mess?”

“You’re asking me?” the Oracle responded. “How do I know? I’m from Greece!”