It’s only a week before Election Day and Governor Jerry Brown must be smiling. The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) Statewide Survey completed October 19 has Brown at 52 percent and Kashkari at 36 percent. The lackluster gubernatorial snoozefest has led to what will be an unprecedented shunning of the ballot box this November 4th.
However, who will occupy the Governor’s mansion for the next four years is not the only important thing to be settled next week.
First there are Propositions 1 and 2. If passed, they will at long last address California’s chronic water supply deficiencies and create a “rainy day” fund so that when the inevitable economic downturn comes there will be money available to protect vital services and education.
The second important issue is the balance of power in the state legislature. There is no danger to the Democrats’ overall majority, but races in four Assembly districts and three State Senate districts will determine whether they enjoy a two-thirds “super majority.” Such a majority means Democrats can pass California’s budget and raise taxes without needing a single vote from Republican legislators.
According to the PPIC Poll, Prop 1 (the water bond or, formally, the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014) is garnering 56 percent support. No doubt it is doing very well because of the lingering and serious drought Californians are being reminded about every day. Prop 2 (the “rainy day” fund) is ahead with 49 percent in support and 34 percent against..
The seven legislative races that will determine if the Democrats regain their “supermajority” are very tight and too close to call at this point.
Governor Brown and his allies have spent a considerable sum on television spots promoting Props 1 and 2. It seems you can’t turn on any network or cable channel without seeing an ad, or two, or three…
But there is one place you won’t see any of these ads: Spanish language television stations. The state is home to more than 4 million Latino voters and they now account for a whopping 23 percent of the electorate. Yet the main conduits of news and information for California Latinos are being ignored.
Like the rest of the electorate, many Latino voters are unenthusiastic about going to the polls next week. Polling also indicates that Latinos view the drought and its effects on our water supply as a top tier issue right along with jobs, the economy and education. Latino opinion is no different from others when it comes to propositions 1 and 2. Like other Californians, most need to be informed and educated before they will turn out and cast their vote.
The campaign in support of the propositions is being led by Yes on Props 1 & 2. Is the Props 1 & 2 committee taking Latino voters for granted? Or are they oblivious as to the consequences of not doing so? Are the Democrats making a tactical error by not targeting Latinos to help drive up turnout in that community?
And if they fail to achieve their goal of the two-thirds majority in both legislative houses, will they be kicking themselves and second-guessing their consultants for not reaching out to and communicating with this key group of Californians, a group that has overwhelmingly supported them and their issues in past elections?
Republicans had Prop 187 back in 1994. It won at the ballot box, but it led to a nasty hangover for Republicans that still haunts the party. Some Latinos remain wary of the party because of Prop 187. Democrats have been eager and able to exploit this for nearly two decades. It’s only been in the past few years that consultants are waking up to the fact that having any future in California means engaging the Latino community. After all, the issues that concern Latinos are the same ones that concern all Californians. They should be included in the conversation.