The recent Field Poll showing Gov. Brown’s tax increase proposal ahead 54-38% fails to convey a critical underlying dynamic: the only way Brown is going to get his measure passed in November is to convince voters that there’s an adult in charge in Sacramento who’s going to spend their money wisely – or at least not blow it.
Here’s evidence: Overall, 64% of voters say California is on the wrong track compared to 26% who say it’s going in the right direction. Among those who say the state is on the right track, (the Field Poll tells Calbuzz) Brown’s measure leads hugely, 79-13%. But among those who say California is on the wrong track, it’s 45% yes versus 47% no.
Alternatively, of those who are supporting Brown’s measure, just 53% say the state is on the wrong track and 37% say it’s on the right track. But among those opposed to his proposal, 84% say the state’s on the wrong track and just 9% say it’s on the right track.
In other words, in order to keep his support – because ballot measures invariably lose standing over time as the undecideds make up their minds to vote no – Gov. Gandalf has to make the case that California (especially Sacramento) is getting better, stronger and smarter. And then to convince voters that he has a plan to get the budget under control and spend tax dollars wisely.
As Mark DiCamillo of the Field Poll told us: “Brown needs more people to see the state moving in the right direction.”
It helps that independents are leaning 56-38% in favor of his measure and that middle-of-the-road voters lean 54-40% his way. But these are not great numbers, especially when nearly a third of likely voters said they’d be less likely to support Brown’s measure if the Legislature were to approve funds for high-speed rail (which they just did).
Who knows if Molly Munger (whose own tax-increase ballot measure is locked at 46-46%) will point to HSR as wasteful spending in order to tube Brown’s measure? With John Hein, formerly of the CTA, and Dean Tipps, formerly of SEIU, inexplicably running her campaign (and the rest of the labor movement vehemently on the other side), anything appears possible. But you can bet the Jon Coupal/Joel Fox/Jon Fleischman anti-tax jihadists will make the case.
As for his part, we hear Brown (who hasn’t done a compelling interview in ages) is hoping to avoid attacking Munger’s measure on the belief that a squabble between them (beyond the court case about their relative ballot positions) will inevitably hurt his own measure. And besides, if he wants to demonstrate that there’s a strong, steady hand on the tiller in Sacramento, it won’t do to get in a knife fight, even with a freelance buccaneeress.
On the other hand, maybe it’s time for Krusty the Governor to get over his utter astonishment that he vastly overestimated his ability to charm Republicans into working with him on the budget. And now he needs to show California that he actually does have the experience and know-how to make Sacramento work in some bipartisan way.
As one Sacramento consultant said to us yesterday, he doesn’t have to demonstrate that he’s ept, only that he’s not inept.