Lower Income Voters Could Save Gov. Gandalf’s Ass


The latest Field Poll confirms what two others have already made clear: that Gov. Gandalf’s Prop. 30 has been knocked down below 50% but is still hanging by a thread, with enough voters still in the balance to eke out a narrow majority.

First the numbers: Field has Prop. 30 ahead 48-38%, compared to PPIC which had it at 48-44% and USC/LA Times at 46-42%. In other words, no public poll found the measure with a majority, but all of them found enough undecideds to pull the measure ahead.

But that could only happen if Prop. 30’s undecideds don’t default to the “No” side, as they usually do in tax elections. And as long as dilettante heiress Molly Munger, her right-wing brother Charles Jr. and the underhanded Joel “Phony Small Business” Fox are attacking Prop. 30, pulling undecided voters to the “Yes” side is that much harder.

Which is why Calbuzz urged Gov. Brown to unleash a “tax-the-rich” endgame and why our friend George Skelton of the LA Times argued that Brown should say: “I told you there’d be no tax increase without a vote of the people. So here’s your choice: Higher taxes on the most wealthy or even more severe cuts that would critically wound public education. Please. We need to put this behind us once and for all.”

Here’s more reasoning: Brown’s measure is doing worst among those with whom it should be – and could be – doing best: lower income voters, most of whom are Democrats and independents, especially in Southern California.

Brown’s tax measure, unlike Munger’s Prop. 38, only raises income taxes on the wealthiest Californians (along with a tiny ¼-cent temporary sales tax hike). But what the Field Poll showed was that among those earning less than $60,000 a year, Prop. 30 is ahead just 45-40%, while among those earning more than $60,000 it leads 54-34%.

In other words, Brown needs to reassure those lower income voters that his measure will not tax them, will tax the rich, will help balance the sate budget and begin to pull California out of debt. “Prop. 30 will not raise your taxes,” Brown should be telling lower income Democrats in Los Angeles. “It will ask rich people to pay a little more to keep schools from being hit with devastating cuts.”

According to some of the best minds in California polling, it’s entirely possible that lower income voters are beginning to figure this out – in part because the permanent anti-tax vote in California, which was once about 45%, is now about 40%, owning to changing demographics.

We’re not sure why Anne Brown and Ace Smith, who have taken control of Brown’s campaign brain trust, have not kept Jerry on a disciplined, populist message. Or whether that’s even possible, given Brown’s outsized assessment of his own political acumen.

But luckily for the governor, voters still like him pretty much, they respect him as an old hand and they might even give him the benefit of the doubt on the measure he’s asking for – if  they’re convinced, in these precious last days, that his ballot prop won’t hurt lower income Californians, that instead it will tax the rich and that as the adult in Sacramento, Gandalf’s got a plan to make sure the money will be well spent.

Good luck with that.

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There are 3 comments for this post

  1. avatar tonyseton says:

    It’s tragic that there are so many people at the low end of the income and education ladders who lack the common sense to vote in their own best interests; to vote at all. The ridiculous bromide that they are struggling just to make ends meet and don’t have time to vote is pure nonsense. They would vote against education in California. They would elect people like Romney and the teabaggers who will cut food stamps and health care.
    A poll of Europeans shows them supporting Obama by 90%, and here it’s close. Because we are stupid? Because we watch and buy into those obscene TV spots?
    Thomas Jefferson observered, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
    I fear that our citizenry is not up to practicing democracy.

  2. avatar smoker1 says:

    I think that Prop 30’s poor showing comes from two thoughts. The first is a basic skepticism (cynicism?) that when politicians want tax increases they say that the only alternative is to cut the most popular government expenditures (e.g., schools). They don’t talk about cuts in Health and Human Services. Why? Because people generally don’t understand why we spend $45 B a year on health care for the poor and $40 B on K-12 schools (according to the Governor’s Budget 2012-13).

    The second reason is that for people who make between $48,000 and $200,000 a year, California has the highest income tax in the nation. We also have the highest sales tax in the nation. We come in one cent under the New York gas tax, which is the highest in the nation. Our property tax rates are very low, but because property values are so high, we end up having some of the highest taxed land in the nation.

    You add it all up and wonder: can we really grow our way out of this? Is there enough juice in our potential economy to pay for all this? Maybe, but I don’t think the state government is doing their part.

  3. avatar binasez says:

    smoker1 – Your post has so many incorrect statements I honestly don’t know where to start. First, are you actually suggesting it would be better to cut services to the poor & disabled instead of schools? Because that’s a revolting idea. Schools get money year after year after year, while the poor and especially the disabled have been hit terribly hard. I have NO PROBLEM with cutting education funding – maybe YOU find it the most popular govt expenditure but many, MANY of us do not approve of endless dollars for a bad system.

    Second, California does NOT have the highest income tax in the nation, not for that income group you stated, nor any income group. Depending on how you measure, we are anywhere between 6th & 12th. Of course if you get all your info from the slanted, right wing Caltax site, I can see where you got bad info.

    Third while we do have the highest sales tax rate, when combined with local tax rates – and you MUST include local tax rates because you CAN’T just pay state tax on anything – we are 12th. Other states’ local municipalities are stuck driving up local sales tax BECAUSE their states have low rates – it’s a lovely trick played by their state legislators: “I won’t raise taxes” while dumping services back into the laps of locals who then have no choice but to raise local revenue sources.

    As for the gas tax, gee it might be high because it’s used to upkeep the zillions of miles of road in this LARGE state with the HIGHEST NUMBER of vehicles on the road in entire country…but maybe you’d prefer Texas roads & highways, feel free to drive on over.

    Fifth, yes we do have VERY low property tax but your completely unfactual claim that property values are so high we end up “having some of the highest taxed land in the nation”. NOT….EVEN…CLOSE…. Not ALL of California has high property values, much of the state has home prices similar to Illinois, New Hampshire, Colorado, Florida – $200,000 can buy you a 3 bedroom home in Sacramento. Just because SF & Beverly Hills are costly doesn’t make them the “average’. Go into the bowels of the Inland Empire – very low home prices. The small home I inherited from my grandmother in Texas costs me more in property tax than my California home so I can tell you, your statement is way off-base.

    Lastly – What on earth are you talking about “Prop 30’s poor showing”. … IT WON. If that’s a poor showing, I’d love to hear what you think a winner looks like!

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