Political Animal


October 29, 2012 3:04 PM Nail-Biter in California

By Ed Kilgore

I’ve done a couple of posts on California ballot initiatives already, but wanted to mention the public opinion research that is showing all but one of the eleven ballot measures in some trouble. The most comprehensive was offered by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for USC and the L.A. Times, which showed Prop 36, an initiative to get rid of stupid life sentences for minor offenses caused by the Three Strikes law, as the only one with majority support.

Prop 37, which would impose new labeling requirements for genetically modified foods, still has plurality support but is losing ground to heavy advertising from agribusiness interests. Prop 34, which would replace the erratically enforced death penalty with a life-without-parole option, is trailing narrowly. And Prop 32, a “paycheck protection” initiative bitterly opposed by unions, seems to be going down to a solid defeat.

The finding that’s getting the most attention, however, involves Prop 30, Jerry Brown’s tax-and-budget initiative, which has been bleeding support (in part because of a competing tax-increase-for-education initiative, Prop 38, which has no chance of winning but has caused confusion) but still has a narrow (46/42) advantage even as Brown intensifies his personal campaigning for it while not-so-privately encouraging labor to switch its emphasis to 30 as opposed to 32.

A separate poll, from the Public Policy Institute of California, has very similar findings, with Prop 30 up 48-44 and Prop 32 down 39-53. Similar trend lines were found by the Field Poll a bit earlier; Field showed Prop 30 slipping to 51% on October 20.

California ballot initiatives typically fail if they don’t achieve majority support levels in pre-election polls. Given the rather catastrophic budgetary trajectory of the state absent the kind of measures contained in Prop 30, Brown better kick out the jams.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on October 29, 2012 3:23 PM:

    Well, considering California signed it's own death warrant on a tax ballot initiative back in the 70's, maybe it's appropriate that they try to eliminate the death penalty.

  • meady on October 29, 2012 4:28 PM:

    I live in Sacramento and I do think Prop 30 will pass. I also think that 32 will fail. The rather unfortunate side affect of the California govern by referendum is that most propositions are voted down completely. People don't want to vote for more taxes but they will vote for super trains and road improvement intiatives vehicle standards, clean air and clean water etc, as long as it doesn't cost a dime more. Propositions are now written in such a way as to encourage a no vote (exhibit A Proposition 8). I was shocked last year when something like $8 more a year on vehicle registration would have allowed people free access to the State Parks. The money was to be used to administer and maintain the Parks. It went down for absolutely no reason other than $8 dollars more a year out of people who register vehicles pockets. People know that Proposition 30 is needed for some stability in the education system. They know that bad things will happen if it doesn't pass. Of course I live in the State Capitol, I don't know how things are playing in Southern California.

  • TCinLA on October 29, 2012 5:41 PM:

    The ironic thing is, that Jerry Brown is the guy who caused this catastrophe.

    Back in 1975, when California property tax assements were exploding as property values were climbing, my then-boss, Willie Brown, Speaker of the Assembly, had a plan to cap the tax rates on residential housing, while keeping corporate property at the market rate. This would have solved the problem forever. There was a 2/3 Democratic majority in both the Assembly and Senate (the last time this situation existed), and all Willie needed was a little leadership from the new governor, to bring on board a few conservative Democrats. It would have been a done deal.

    Except Governor Moonbeam had the attention span of a gnat and was busy promoting "small is beautiful" and hanging out with the Marin Hippie Mafia, when he wasn't touring the world with his rock 'n' roll girlfriend, Linda Ronstadt. So nothing was done, and in 1976, the Democratic majorities slipped below 2/3 and the moment was gone.

    Enter far right Republican Howard Jarvis, there to save the homeowners with Proposition 13, which cut all rates for all property. 34 years later, the only property in California still being taxed at that 1978 rate is the only property that hasn't been sold in that time (it gets reassessed after sale) is the CORPORATE-OWNED PROPERTY. Corporations, which 34 years ago were paying 80% of property taxes, have seen that reversed. And of course local government has been starved, and 34 years of mismanagement by anyone who stays in Sacramento longer than six months (did I mention I left 32 years ago out of frustration of watching this insanity?) has put the state in the hole it is, with the near-complete destruction of a higher education system that let me go all the way to a graduate degree, using my GI bill money, and graduate owing not one red cent to anyone. Everything else that was any good in the state is in a similar fix. And none of that is going to be fixed with Proposition 30, which is nothing more than a tiny band-aid on Stage 3 Cancer - and is the best we can get since the goddamned pissant Republicans live in WackoWorld.

    But the fact that the California Democratic Party is so morally, spiritually, intellectually bankrupt that the only "leader" it could find to put in the Governor's office was the same asshole who created the problem with his ignorant incompetence is really the Icing On The Cake.

    Thank goodness I am leaving this shithole and this worthless used-to-be-great country in a few years, never to darken the door again.

  • sample sociology dissertation proposal on November 01, 2012 2:52 AM:

    To bring on board a few conservative Democrats. It would have been a done deal.
    sample sociology dissertation proposal