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PPIC Cues the Fail Whale For the May 19 Propositions

by: Robert Cruickshank

Thu May 07, 2009 at 22:01:00 PM PDT


Yes No Dunno
Prop 1A: 35 52 13
Prop 1B: 40 47 13
Prop 1C: 32 58 10
Prop 1D: 43 45 12
Prop 1E: 41 48 11
Prop 1F: 73 24 3
Arnold can threaten to burn down the state all he wants but his Freudian slip is closer to the truth: California voters are poised to reject the May 19 propositions.

Assuming the polling holds true, the outcome of this election is going to be absurd. Despite a full-court press Prop 1A is in worse shape than it was back in March. Prop 1C, the only one of these that actually matters on May 20, is faring the worst of them all, abandoned by Arnold's Budget Reform Now coalition. Props 1D and 1E, which will have a negligible effect on the budget situation on May 20, are actually in the best shape, so voters might decimate children's and mental health programs without actually providing the reforms that the legislators claim they need.

As Mark Baldassare, PPIC president points out, all this election has accomplished is the energization of the most reactionary elements of the electorate:

"The voters who are really tuned in are really turned off," says Mark Baldassare, PPIC president, CEO, and survey director. "They see the state's budget situation as a big problem, but so far, they don't like the solution."

The voters most likely to be following news of the special election very closely are older than age 55, men, and those who disapprove of the governor and legislature.

I attribute this to the total failure of the Yes campaign, rooted in their "fear will keep them in line" strategy. Ignoring every lesson of the 2008 campaign, the Yes side has tried to scare people into voting for the initiatives. Instead they merely seem to have scared the most conservative part of the electorate into showing up to register their disdain.

Another significant aspect of the PPIC poll is the dramatic contrast between California's attitudes toward the federal government and the state government. Californians broadly support President Obama and the Democratic Congress and feel good about the country's track, but strongly disapprove of their own state's government and where California is headed.

Hence, this Fail Whale image. The Democratic legislative leadership has badly miscalculated by trying to scare their base into supporting the initiatives. The fearmongering has made folks less likely to want to show up on May 19 - why would anyone be motivated by a "hold your nose" argument? Why would anyone want to show up to vote for initiatives in the absence of an assertive and aggressive strategy to fight budget cuts? And finally, why would anyone want to vote for anti-progressive initiatives that will merely make our future budget deficits deeper and more intractable? Obama inspired and empowered, but the Yes on 1A coalition demotivated and disempowered.

When these initiatives fail, as Arnold rightly predicted, it will primarily be a repudiation of Arnold Schwarzenegger's failed governorship. It will also be a sign that progressive voters are not going to help defend a bad set of budget solutions. If progressive legislators and organizations want to mobilize their base to help produce a fairer budget, they need to make a stand in the Capitol to ensure that anything that goes to voters has at least passing resemblance to progressive policy.

The last two elections in California - November 2008 and May 2009 - will both offer important lessons to Democrats and progressives. They both prove that if you want public support for a program of change, you have to offer hope and a credibly progressive set of solutions. If you do, the public WILL turn out to support it. If you do not, the public WILL reject it.

The keys to California's future are waiting for anyone willing to embrace a progressive, empowering set of solutions. May 19 is a clarion call for that kind of leadership in our state.

Robert Cruickshank :: PPIC Cues the Fail Whale For the May 19 Propositions
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An important poll result (0.00 / 0)
It's very important for Democratic legislators (especially those who keep saying we will have a "cuts only" budget) to register that the PPIC respondents, even as they turn down 5 of the 6 propositions, say by 48% to 43% that they would rather pay higher taxes than receive lower services from the state.  The problem is not raising taxes.  The problem is raising taxes in an unfair and regressive way.  


Unfortunately (0.00 / 0)
 ... if they fail, the framing will be that Californians are anti-tax and this is a victory for Howard Jarvis & Co.,  because overwhelming majorities of Republicans oppose the props and a majority of Democrats (including progressives) support them.

Reminds me of the Nader role in the Bush victory.



that certainly is how you're framing it (5.00 / 2)
one wonders if you will continue to do so after the election, and if so, why.

[ Parent ]
A majority? (0.00 / 0)
The PPIC poll shows a majority of likely Democratic voters support props B, D, and F. Among Democrats, Prop A has 47% support, Prop C has 42% support, and Prop E has 48% support.

A plurality of likely Democratic voters supports all the measures except Measure C, where the number is 46 in favor to 42% against with 12% undecided.

What's truly sad about this package is that the rainy day fund constitutional amendment, which was inserted by extortion from a Republican minority, hasn't helped the popularity of the measure with Republicans.

OC Progressive is Gus Ayer, former Fountain Valley Council member.  


[ Parent ]
We're mainstream Dems & progressives -- not Naderites. (0.00 / 0)
You can demonize us all you want, but the vast majority of Democrats voting against these propositions are not Nader voters.  They are mainstream and progressive Dems who don't want a budget cap, don't want to make state taxes even more regressive, don't want to give the governor even more power to make unilateral, undemocratic cuts in the budget, don't want to squander long-term assets to prop up only one year's budget, and don't want to transfer money away from children's services and mental health.  In other words -- Democrats.

They are people who were told 1A was a compromise, read through it looking for the items that appealed to them (to balance with those that didn't), found none, and decided they were being lied to about what 1A is all about.  They are right.  And the intimidation and dishonesty of the Yes campaign has totally reinforced their judgment.


[ Parent ]
Huh. And maybe that's because (0.00 / 0)
the whole package ties an incredibly complex and permanent spending cap in the constitution to retaining a temporary regressive (but statutory) tax increase two years from now (1A), reallocated funds intended to serve the most vulnerable to make up holes in the general fund (1D, 1E), and tries to bribe the CTA to neutralize them (1B), all while providing a meaningless sop to angry voters (1F).  

And then the Dem establishment tries to sell the whole thing to its voters as a good idea while the Republicans can demagogue the regressive tax increase. Of course, the 2/3 structure gives even the remarkably incompetent CRP the power to do this, and the Dems have not been willing to mount a sustained campaign to address the structural problems, even while millions of dollars get shuffled into Dem leadership slush funds and spent on initiatives like Prop 93, doomed because of the appearance (and reality) of self-dealing.

In other words, the package is a manure sandwich, and nothing anyone says can make it roast beef, least of all people who have spent the last few years being paid to defend the indefensible.

It's contemptible to attempt to Naderize this trainwreck and shift the blame for the abject failure of the last few decades of professional, paid and elected political leadership to those people outside the halls of power who have simply and finally had enough of manure sandwiches.


[ Parent ]
Oh, and while I'm thinking of it (0.00 / 0)
Let's not forget that this whole mess is what we get in trade for... wait for it... a billion dollars in corporate tax breaks.  I don't know with what foul herb you garnish a manure sandwich, but the corporate tax breaks are certainly that.

And yet the Yes Campaign has the chutzpah to try to tar as objectively Jarvisite those people who have had enough of the manure sandwiches, all in preparation for making sure that the blame falls anywhere except the people who actually have real power.  


[ Parent ]
People have already voted (0.00 / 0)
Looking at the local numbers, in the OC, 143,197 ballots have already been received, and there are probably another 30,000 in the mail stream.

Projecting a 35% turnout for this election, that means that around 32% of the likely voters in Orange County have cast their ballots.

People aren't going to turn out on May 19th to vote on this confusing array of measures.

PPIC's poll sample was large, and their methodology on propositions is very good.

The fat lady has already sung.


OC Progressive is Gus Ayer, former Fountain Valley Council member.  


Unfortunately... (0.00 / 0)
If you look beyond the Yes/No numbers, PPIC asked voters how important their votes were for 1B-1E.  The outcome of the measures is more important to yes voters than to the no voters.  We saw this with Proposition 8, yes voters were more likely to turn out after the Presidential election was decided.

"Yes" Voters 1B 1C 1D 1E
Very important 60% 34% 48% 41%
Somewhat important 34% 50% 44% 48%
Not too important 4% 11% 6% 10%
Not at all important 1% 3% 1% 1%
"No" Voters 1B 1C 1D 1E
Very important 39% 35% 39% 37%
Somewhat important 33% 36% 34% 33%
Not too important 12% 17% 15% 18%
Not at all important 12% 10% 11% 10%


[ Parent ]
If only (5.00 / 1)
If only the millions that poured into the Yes on 1A campaign had been spent on 1C, there might actually be a chance of a measure passing that would make a meaningful difference this year and next.  But, oh wait, Chevron, Altria, and Occidential (the big funders behind Yes on 1A) don't give a crap about whether or not the state is actually functional.  They only care about the perks they've been given in 1A.

even better (5.00 / 1)
imagine if dems had been looking ahead enough to put a 2/3 repeal + higher income tax brackets + prop 13 split rolls + oil severance tax on the ballot when arnold called his special election.

always reactive, always caving, always stuck with the thankless job of selling arnold's schemes to democratic voters.


[ Parent ]
Heck, if only those millions were being spent (0.00 / 0)
on the state services that have been cut.

Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

[ Parent ]
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