Barely noticed in the stories that ran last week based on a Reuters /Ipsos poll (that showed Democrats Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer with “narrow” leads in their races for governor and U.S. Senate) was this nugget in the piece by Steve Holland of Reuters:
“The survey also found a wide disparity between the parties about the state’s climate change and environmental regulations. It said 68 percent of Democrats believe green policies will drive investment in green technology and jobs, while 62 percent of Republicans think they will create higher energy costs.”
Barely noticed*, perhaps, because the Reuters mainbar passed over the really important news , buried in the survey data that Ipsos graciously shared with Calbuzz:
That half the registered voters agree that “California regulations regarding climate change and the environment drive investment in green technology and create green jobs.” That’s compared to just 38% who say those regulations “will create higher energy costs and lead to cuts in traditional jobs.”
That’s essentially a split of 50-38% in favor of AB32, the state’s pioneering climate change law that some oil companies and others are trying to repeal with Proposition 23. And even more important than the mirror stands by party the Reuters story noted (Democrats 68-21% for green jobs; Republicans 62-27 for higher costs and job losses) was this number: Among independents 56% said climate change regulations would create green jobs while just 30% said they would drive up costs and unemployment.
Loyal Calbuzz readers will recall that we have argued for some time that 1) the environment is a threshold issue for independent voters, much like choice: if a candidate is seen as “wrong” on the issue, voters don’t care what their stance is on the really important issues like economy and jobs and 2) Meg Whitman, in trying not to get outflanked on the right by Steve Poizner in the GOP primary, made a strategic blunder by declaring herself an implacable foe of AB32.
Although Whitman has not yet taken a position on Prop. 23, it’s hard to see how she could justify NOT supporting it, since she herself has called for suspending the measure because she’s afraid it’s a job killer.
It’s amusing when big foot Washington reporters realize that something happening in California has national significance, like Ron Brownstein’s story in National Journal looking at the movement to repeal AB32. But really, they miss the practical political point, too, when they argue: “In this grueling economy, California’s climate-change law still faces a tough struggle in November.”
With Gov. Schwarzenegger, former Secretary of State George Shultz, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and a host of other business interests, including clean-tech firms, lining up to defend AB32 (and with “Yes” twice as hard to win on the ballot than “No”), what makes the battle over the measure most interesting is the effect it will have on the governor’s and U.S. Senate races (Republican Carly Fiorina is also unrelentingly against AB32).
We’ll know more when new survey data is available from the Field Poll, but in the most recent surveys PPIC had AB32’s approval at 66% and Field had it at 58%. In addition, Attorney General Jerry Brown gave it a rather crippling official title and summary: “Suspends Air Pollution Control Laws Requiring Major Polluters to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions.”
The Ipsos Public Affairs survey has some drawbacks: it’s a random digit dialed (RDD) survey in which voters are simply asked if they’re registered to vote and in what party they’re registered. That brings people with unlisted phone numbers into the sample (which you don’t get using the voter list), but it relies on respondents to tell pollsters if they’re actually registered to vote (a somewhat iffy proposition). PPIC still uses RDD; the Field Poll has gone to using the voter list.
BTW, those “narrow” leads reported by Reuters or “small” leads written up by Clifford Young of Ipsos might well have been understated. The Ipsos data shows that Brown leads Whitman 45-39% on the initial question, but when leaners are thrown in, it’s Brown over Whitman 48-41%. Likewise, Boxer leads Fiorina 45-41% in the initial vote but 48-42% when the leaners are added in. The top line report notes “Ipsos does not allocate leaners at this stage of the electoral cycle.”
Calbuzz, however, is happy to include the leaners for both candidates. In the governor’s race, Brown leads 79-14% among Democrats; Whitman leads 82-11% among Republicans and — critically — Brown leads 47-15% among independents.
Also, while Whitman has been making a big push for Latinos (after her muscular anti-illegal-immigration rhetoric in the GOP primary), Ipsos had it 59-34% for Brown among Latinos. And while the Ipsos sample of 600 is too small to look at party by gender or gender by party, we can tell you this: Brown was leading Whitman 46-41% among men but 49-41% among women. To date, as we have argued before, gender pales as an influence on the vote compared to party.
* One political mover and shaker who DID catch the significance of the survey data was our friend Steve Maviglio over at California Majority Report.