A month before the primary election I wrote a column asking if the recall election of Sen. Josh Newman would be a harbinger for the gas tax repeal in November. His constituents kicked Newman out of office with the gas tax being the main focus of the campaign. Does that prove the issue will play statewide?

Most polls have shown opposition to the gas tax increase. The USC/LA Times poll in May had the gas tax repeal winning 51% to 38%. Supporters of the Newman recall have heralded the recall as a sign voters are angry at the tax increase and are ready to throw it aside. Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox’s first post-primary press conference supported the tax repeal. It will be a main thrust of his campaign.

Yet, indications are the gas tax repeal measure is far from a slam-dunk victory in November.

The fact that the gas tax argument played well in a more conservative part of the state does not mean the claim will have the same power statewide.

Some numbers in a Public Policy Institute of California poll from last January might be troubling for the proponents of the repeal. Admittedly, the poll is months old and we are constantly reminded that polls are but a snapshot in time. However, likely voters responding to the poll on the gas tax repeal were evenly split and there were some surprise responses.

The gas tax is considered regressive, a heavier burden on those on the lower rung of the economic ladder, especially those who have to drive a long way to work. Often we hear about workers in the Inland Empire who make long drives to jobs in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Yet, the PPIC poll revealed that Inland Empire likely voters opposed the gas tax repeal by a whopping 62% to 37%. Latino voters opposed the measure 59% to 35% while seniors, who often vote more conservatively were evenly split: 48% in favor of the repeal, 47% opposed.

The political party split was what you might expect—Republicans for repeal 61% to 36%; Democratic voters against the repeal 56% to 39%.

An important consideration is that the big money will be on the side opposing the repeal. That means advertising showing transportation improvements will fill television screens in the fall.

Business is joining labor opposed to the repeal. The California Chamber of Commerce and other business groups such as the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Bay Area Council, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group have joined the coalition opposed to repeal.

Gov. Jerry Brown will push business groups to financially support the campaign to defeat the repeal initiative. He still has influence with those groups, at least until he retires his veto pen after September 30. Brown also is sitting on millions of dollars in his campaign account, which he can direct to the campaign.

Still, the feeling that California is overtaxed strikes a cord with voters. The size of the state surplus–and now potential more tax revenue flowing into the state after the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing taxation of Internet sales–will be on the voters minds. Gasoline prices at the time of the election could also have a determining role in the outcome.

The Newman recall buttressed gas tax repeal proponents. However, my cracked crystal ball thinks this battle will be a close one.