A Calbuzz Look Beyond the Obvious: PPIC’s Poll on the Loser Props


Growling BearThe Public Policy Institute of California is out with a new poll and – we trust you’re sitting down, Maude – all the May 19 budget props (1A-1E) are losing. Even 1F (which blocks pay increases for state electeds in deficit years) has lost ground (though it’s still a likely winner).

Prop 1A, Governor Arnold’s Big Dog, deficit-limiting/tax-hiking/rainy-day-fund-building kitchen sink measure, is losing 52-35% among likely voters, and runs even lamer among those following the election most closely: 65% No Way Dude vs 29% Sounds Like a Great Idea.

As PPIC pollster and big kahuna Marc Baldassare put it: “The voters who are really tuned in are really turned off.”

Here’s the PPIC Prop rundown among likely voters and corresponding Field Poll results:
• Prop. 1A (Rainy Day Budget Stabilization Fund)
52% N, 35% Y, 13% DK. Field Poll: 49-40-11.
• Prop. 1B (Education Funding)
47% N, 40% Y, 13% DK. Field: 49-40-11.
• Prop. 1C (Lottery Modernization)
58% N, 32% Y, 10% DK. Field: 59-32-9.
• Prop. 1D (Children’s Services Funding)
45% N, 43% Y, 12% DK. Field: 49-40-11.
• Prop. 1E (Mental Health Funding)
48% N, 41% Y, 11% DK. Field: 51-40-9.
• Prop. 1F (Elected Officials Salaries)
73% Y, 24% N, 3% DK. Field: 71-24-5.

What you gotta’ love about PPIC is that the late Bill Hewlett’s gonzo endowment, plus lotsa cash money from the James Irvine Foundation, lets these guys poll huge samples – in this case 2,005 respondents (+/- 2%), among whom they identify 1,080 likely voters (+/- 3%). Of course, size doesn’t always matter, since there’s not much real props news here beyond the lean, mean Field Poll published April 29.

Other numbers from PPIC, however, offer some important insight into the political landscape in California: voters are in an incredibly cranky and pessimistic state of mind. Check it:

— 91% say the state is in a recession
— 76% say the state’s headed in the wrong direction.
— 75% expect bad times financially for California in the next year.
— 51% have already lost a job or are concerned that they or a family member will lose a job.

More political gloom and doom:

— 80% disapprove of the Legislature.
— 76% say the state is run by a few big interests.
— 71% say people in government waste tax money.
— 56% disapprove of the governor.
— 16% say they trust state government to do what’s right all or most of the time.

Key nuance: While state pols are basically dead to likely voters (think Al Pacino kissing Fredo in Godfather II) and only 39% approve of the “job” Congress is doing – a staggering 66% of likelies, and 72% of all adults, approve of Barack Obama’s performance as president. Hmmm . . .

The underlying message: Those leading California today are, not to put too fine a point on it, UTTERLY TONE DEAF!

Cogito, ergo sum: When 47% of adults – and 57% of Californians making less than $40K – say they’re somewhat or very concerned they may lose their job in the next year, you have to be out of your bloody mind to propose anything that even smells like a tax increase for working people.

Will some candidate for governor tap into the voters’ fear and loathing? Will 2010 be the year of soak-the-rich populism? Will class warfare be the call of the wily? Stay tuned to Calbuzz. Plenty of free parking.

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There are 9 comments for this post

  1. avatar Greg says:

    So, who calls a constitutional convention? Who selects the delegates? Word out of the Democratic convention was “the props are toast”.

    Maybe we should throw state government over the stern and start over. Any ideas?

  2. avatar Greg says:

    California’s constitution is the third wordiest on earth, after that of India and Alabama. Many of our budget problems are the result of this ever-expanding document. Since it’s apparent our elected governor and legislature will not take the problem in hand, maybe the people should try to revise the state constitution. How do we get to that point?

    From the Constitution of the State of California:


    SEC. 1. The Legislature by roll call vote entered in the journal, two-thirds of the membership of each house concurring, may propose an amendment or revision of the Constitution and in the same manner may amend or withdraw its proposal. Each amendment shall be so prepared and submitted that it can be voted on separately.

    (This is how this month’s “special” election got put on the ballot.)

    SEC. 2. The Legislature by roll call vote entered in the journal, two-thirds of the membership of each house concurring, may submit at a general election the question whether to call a convention to revise the Constitution. If the majority vote yes on that question, within 6 months the Legislature shall provide for the convention. Delegates to a constitutional convention shall be voters elected from districts as nearly equal in population as may be practicable.

    (Does this mean it takes 2/3 to consider the issue, but a simple majority to provide for a convention? Fat chance, anyway.)

    SEC. 3. The electors may amend the Constitution by initiative.

    (Yeah. We know.)

    SEC. 4. A proposed amendment or revision shall be submitted to the electors and if approved by a majority of votes thereon takes effect the day after the election unless the measure provides otherwise. If provisions of 2 or more measures approved at the same election conflict, those of the measure receiving the highest affirmative vote shall prevail.

    (Nice, but measures sponsored by state government seem to have no credibility with voters. A consitutional convention’s main purpose should be to re-establish that credibility.)

    Can you imagine 2/3 of California’s state legislature agreeing to cede it all to a constitutional convention? The only real option may be a voter petition to place the provision for a consitutional convention on the ballot.

    For more, google “California Constitutional Convention”.

  3. avatar Anonymous says:

    If I were a CTA member, I would be wondering why CTA is spending more than $5 million to push these loser propositions, when that money could have been used to help overturn the 2/3 rules next year.

  4. avatar Anonymous says:

    California Voters have no one to blame for this mess except for themselves. You cant vote for every proposition that mandates spending or locks in tax rates, then vote for term limits, and then be completely disengaged from the process and think your guilt free. California votes are marched lock step in creating barriers and obstacles to efficient government. Sure, the Legislature has not helped itself of late, but what do you expect?

  5. avatar Anonymous says:

    And, of course, the big guns who perennially put budget busting propositions on the ballot would stay away from a constitutional convention…

  6. avatar Anonymous says:

    Great point about CTA. Their Sacramento leadership is to labor unions what the banking CEOs are to wall street. Pissing millions and millions into failed strategies while never failing to collect their large paychecks and perks.

    Fortunately for them, the membership is so stupid and disconnected, all you have to do is feed ’em a firey speech now and then, and they all roll over and say “please lead us David.”

    They’re being led all right. Right off a cliff.

    Starting with Prop 98, an ungodly example of ballot box budgeting, CTA’s singular message to the legislature has been: fund education first. Period.

    No interest in the state’s fiscal solvency, no interest in signficant reform to the state-local fiscal mechanisms, no interest in helping secure a long-term future for all of the state’s obligations.

    Just give us our fricking money — give it to us first, give it to us big, give it to us no matter who gets hurt, and give it to us even when you can’t afford it. And after we get our money, you and everyone else can just go screw yourselves.

    Well CTA, the reality is your impressive political power (which you never hesitate to remind everyone of) can only get you so far. And the day is fast approaching when the fiscal collapse you have helped foster will embolden a new coalition of interests who will seek redress for the absurdity of your selfish tactics.

    At a minimum, your membership will finally wake up and ask, what have you bought with our money? But more likely the rest of the Capitol’s political forces will ask, why should we continue to tolerate you?

    As the good book says, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

  7. avatar Anonymous says:

    Anon states CTA’s position as “Just give us our fricking money — give it to us first, give it to us big, give it to us no matter who gets hurt, and give it to us even when you can’t afford it. And after we get our money, you and everyone else can just go screw yourselves.”

    Wow, if that doesn’t summarize the entire political identity of CTA I don’t know what would. They represent an incredible group of professionals doing vitally important work, but their state leadership is a bunch of political thugs whose tactics have put the entire profession at risk.

  8. avatar Anonymous says:

    Short of a long shot CA Constitutional Convention, the voters and political activists lost another option available for change: Justs circulate recall petitions for every 120 elected members of both houses of the State Legislature. While p****d at the options offered in the compromise ‘crisis budget’ [aforementioned propositions], sounds like the electorate itself is clue-less to alternatives othwe than sitting out the special election – thus further indicting a once respected [now defunct] public education system. And the UC Regents’ response: Raise tuition and fees on the students — with CSU and community college systems likely to follow suit in near-term. WIth each passing day the Pasadena-based, private “University of the People” may be soon swamped with more local (CA) new applicants.

  9. avatar Anonymous says:

    Why did the Democrats vote not to support these Propositions?

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