Robert Bush 6:31 p.m., May 18
Voter Survey: Smokers' Tax Losing Support, Brown Tax Proposal Remains Strong
The nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California has released its latest survey on the opinions of likely California voters. Covered are a host of issues coming to the ballot, including Proposition 29, a proposed $1.00/pack cigarette tax increase, and a measure of the latest favorability ratings of presumptive presidential nominees Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Support for Prop 29, the proposed tobacco tax, has fallen sharply since the campaign season began in earnest. In March, 67 percent of likely voters were in favor, yet only 53 percent say they’re supportive today. Opposition, meanwhile, has grown from 30 percent to 42 percent.
“The large drop in support for Proposition 29 speaks loudly about how a well-funded opposition is able to raise voters' doubts and distrust in state government, even when a tax increase is viewed favorably,” said Institute president and CEO Mark Baldassare in response to the shift, given heavy advertising from the measure’s opposition, largely funded by tobacco industry money.
Support for Proposition 28, which would impose new term limits on state legislators, remains strong, though backing for the measure has fallen from 68 percent in March to 62 percent today. The measure would reduce the total amount of time an individual could serve in state legislature from 14 years to 12, but would allow for the entire period to be served in either the state senate or assembly.
Support for the hybrid tax proposal, which combined the “Millionaire’s Tax” and Governor Jerry Brown’s push for a sales tax increase, continues to hold the support of about 56 percent of voters, similar to a survey conducted in April. Support for increased taxes on the rich (65 percent) remains much stronger than for the increased sales tax on everyone (58 percent are opposed).
A 2010 law change to “open primaries,” where the top two recipients of votes, regardless of party, proceed to the November ballot, enjoys its largest support among self-described political independents. Proponents of primary “reform” say it opens the door for moderate politicians, while detractors worry that districts that lean heavily Democratic or Republican will leave many voters disenfranchised and presented only with two disagreeable options. 49 percent of independents believe the new system reflects a positive change, as compared to 43 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of Republicans.
California, a reliably “blue” state, currently holds a favorable/unfavorable rating of President Obama at 52 percent to 45 percent. Romney’s splits sit at 40 percent favorable, 52 percent unfavorable. Obama’s recent vocalization of support for extending the right of marriage seems to have had little effect, with 49 percent saying their opinion of him remains unchanged, 25 percent saying they like him more, and an equal 25 percent saying their opinion has soured on the president because of his views.
Satisfaction among voters with the choice of presidential candidates has been steadily improving, from 49 percent overall in December to 57 percent today, but there remains a wide party gap – 75 percent of Democrats view the Obama/Romney matchup favorably, while only 46 percent of Republicans are happy with this choice.
Obama’s job approval ratings in California are, predictably, harshly divided along party lines, with the president garnering an 82 percent approval rating among Democrats and a 77 percent disapproval among Republicans. 51 percent of independents approve of Obama’s performance, compared to 38 percent who disapprove. A full 78 percent of voters, with strong majorities across the board, have a negative assessment of the performance of Congress.
The Institute’s full report is available for review here.