3-Dot Thursday: Parsing New Polls and Old Laws


seabiscuitLet’s make things perfectly clear: Far be it from us to beat a dead horse – take that, Seabiscuit! – but the Calbuzz Department of Redundancy Department is feeling vindicated – and thus compelled to recall the righteous thrashing we delivered to the off the mark Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll when it proclaimed that the Jerry Brown-Gavin Newsom race was allegedly getting close.

While certain scribes (we name no names) at the time bought the Kos poll hook, line and sinker, Jim Moore’s much-publicized new survey of the Democratic primary race for governor demonstrates that far from “tightening,” Brown has actually increased his June lead over Newsom – when he was ahead 46-to-26 percent – to 49-to-20 percent in August.

The new JMM Research survey is based on actual likely voters, unlike the screwy Kos poll, which apparently used a sample-selection method that only makes sense in some alternate universe.

More on Moore: In June, when respondents were asked “Do you think Gavin Newsom has sufficient skills to be governor?” 41% said yes and 19% said no; in August it came back 39% yes and 29% no. Oops. Worse for the Prince, Brown’s numbers on the same question improved, from 69-to-7% in June to 78-to-10% in August.

Also, in projected match-ups against Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner, Brown leads Whitman 42-to 32% and Poizner 45-to 32% while Newsom trails Whitman 34-to-41%. Moore’s gold standard survey interviewed 600 likely voters from the voter list (+/- 4%), including 355 Democrats (+/- 5%).

Chevy Tahoe Hybrid1R

Gas guzzling Gavin: Over at NBC Bay Area, the sharp-eyed Jackson West busts hizzoner for hypocrisy with a dandy little report on Mayor Mother Earth’s new whip:

“San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom might as well tote around town in a bus. His current ride, a Chevy Tahoe Hybrid SUV [example shown here for illustration purposes only] equipped with the latest in mobile technology, has a bigger engine than the latest addition to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority’s buses.

With more horsepower than a bus, it’s no wonder that even with the gas-electric hybrid engine, it gets only slightly better mileage than the cutoff for the Federal Cash for Clunkers program.”

Maybe that’s why he’s running on fumes.

What are we missing? Joel Fox is a very nice fella with whom we often disagree on policy, but he may be on to something with his latest suggestion for reform over at Fox and Hounds.

Like all good conservatives, Fox likes that whole Back to the Future thing, in this case, reverting to what the Calbuzz constitutional cognoscenti know as the “Riley-Stewart amendment,” a long-repealed provision that required a two-thirds vote to pass a new budget in the Legislature only in cases when spending increased more than five percent.

A close reading of Riley-Stewart, however, shows the matter is slightly more complex than it appears at first blush.

For one thing, the five percent spending increase was measured over a two-year period – what your framers liked to call your “biennium” – not one year. On the other side of the ledger, however, RS also did not count spending for schools in the measure of increased appropriations.

The matter was researched and reported upon by California historian Amanda Meeker back in the 1990s, the last time constitutional revision was a matter of dinner table conversation in California:

“A major overhaul of the state’s fiscal system occurred in the 1933 with the Riley-Stewart amendment…It provided that funds for the public school system would be set aside before any other appropriations were made, thus making the budget process somewhat less flexible by increasing the percentage of state spending that was constitutionally fixed. The goal of this provision was to shift some of the school tax burden from the counties to the state…

“Most important for the budget process was the provision that general fund appropriations for any biennium, excluding school appropriations, could not exceed by more than 5 percent the appropriations for the previous biennium unless approved by a two-thirds vote of each house of the legislature.”

So, at a time when compromise on the two-thirds rule looks as likely as Glenn Beck starting to quote from The Age of Reason, the wily Fox may be pointing to the Third Way.

Call now – don’t lose your place in line: Even as you sit there thinking – Wow, I wish I could get ahold of some Calbuzz mojo and Google juice – our Department of Weights, Measures and Marketing is busy preparing to roll out a splendid new advertising opportunity for companies, campaigns and candidates wanting to cash in on our high-end eyeball stash of what you call your insiders and decision-makers in California politics. Watch this space Saturday for the Calbuzz New Deal.

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There are 4 comments for this post

  1. While Calbuzz ponders a 5 percent spending increase, let us not miss the fact that the tax brackets have just moved down for the first time since 1987, and you will pay MORE TAXES without a single vote by anybody. Another fine feather in California’s cap to take money out of the hands of people and dump it into state coffers where it is so wisely spent on what? More government. Why? Because the government spends it so wisely? Nay say I, indeed they take our money because they CAN! And all these stupid commissions on restructuring the way taxes are raised should be scaring the &*(@# out of everyone, including you bleeding heart liberals. And now the feds want to take over health care? Lovely!

    • avatar chrisfinnie says:

      Kind of you to let us know what planet you hang out on.
      If you don’t like government services, kindly notify your county not to do road repairs on your street, let the fire department know they can allow your house to burn during the next firestorm in Santa Barbara, and tell the police dispatchers to ignore any distress calls from your address. Pull your kids out of public schools and universities. And forgo trips to the public library. We’ll all thank you for the decreased services use. It will mean more for the rest of us–and we sure need it!

      Yes, my heart is bleeding. It is bleeding for my native state that is suffering the depredations of ignorant fools like you.

  2. avatar Bob Brigham says:

    When Garry South said he was going to go negative, who knew he was talking about hairboy’s poll numbers.

  3. avatar chronboy says:

    The big advantage to that 5 percent rule is that it enables California to get a standard, plain vanilla budget passed without having to go to the mattresses. It wouldn’t make a bit of difference in a tough budget year like the last couple or when there’s money for everyone like the dotcom boom. But it sure would be nice to see a budget slide through without all the late night drama, even if it only happens occasionally.

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