Field Poll week, always a kind of California political Christmas in July (or whatever month it happens to be), continues today with new numbers on four of the major propositions on the fall ballot, which you can see at right. They are Prop 18, the $11 billion water bond which may or may not be on the fall ballot, Prop 19, which would legalize cannabis, Prop 23, which would repeal AB 32 and destroy our green jobs economy, and Prop 25, the majority vote budget initiative.
It's hard to discern any obvious trends from these numbers, so I'll take each proposition in turn (except Prop 18, which seems likely to be removed from the ballot). Prop 19 is suffering from the "enthusiasm gap" seen in other polls around the state and nation, in that Democratic base voters are not planning to show up in the same numbers this fall that they did in 2008. But Prop 19 is having some trouble even with that base vote.
White voters support Prop 19 48-43. But nonwhites are opposing it by larger margins. Latinos oppose 62-36, African Americans oppose 52-40, and Asian Americans oppose 62-33. Voters under age 30 support it 52-39, but the Field Poll found the white/non-white divide exists in this age group as well. Voters between ages 30 and 65 are mostly split, with voters over age 65 strongly opposed, 57-33.
Some may read these numbers as portending doom for Prop 19. But the campaign is already moving to proactively address this. This week saw the prominent endorsement of Prop 19 by the California NAACP, whose president Alice Huffman wrote about her support for the law:
As leaders of the California NAACP, it is our mission to eradicate injustice and continue the fight for civil rights and social justice wherever and whenever we can. We are therefore compelled to speak out against another war, the so called "war on drugs." To be clear, this is not a war on the drug lords and violent cartels, this is a war that disproportionately affects young men and women and the latest tool for imposing Jim Crow justice on poor African-Americans.
This is a message that will resonate among African Americans, and likely among Latinos as well. Cast as a prison reform measure, and a fight against unfair police treatment, it is entirely likely that the numbers will show movement toward the "yes" side among those communities. And that could be enough to put Prop 19 over the top. Clearly, turnout will matter, and if Prop 19 can drive its younger supporters to the polls, that will not only help Prop 19, but Democrats on the November ballot.
Prop 23, the measure backed by big oil companies that would repeal AB 32, the landmark global warming and green jobs bill, is not in a good position, with only 36% of voters backing it. Prop 23 fares poorly among all age groups except 30-39 year olds, which is primarily made up of the more right-wing Generation X. Millennial voters, those of us 30 and under, oppose Prop 23 by a large margin, 56-33.
Prop 25's large early lead is welcome news to progressives - and probably explains the right-wing smear campaign that was launched against it yesterday, as Brian explained. With 58% of Republicans supporting this measure, you can also understand why Republican politicians are now lying to the public that Prop 25 would make it easier to raise taxes.
Although, if they keep saying that and Prop 25 passes anyway, it would seem a sign to me that we should immediately follow up with an initiative on the November 2012 ballot to eliminate the 2/3 rule for taxes as well.
Clearly there is some work to do on behalf of Prop 19, particularly among communities of color. And we'll need to ensure that Prop 23 remains unpopular, and that the No on 25 campaign isn't able to erode this early support for Prop 25 by too great a margin.