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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.

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mridolf May 23, 2012 @ 11:09 p.m.

The only good poll is the one taken outside the polling site, where the ones that already voted tell how they voted. But that's after the fact.

This is a far ranging compilation. But I'd like to focus on the cigarette tax.

Is Prop 29 meant to be a money raising effort, or a deterent? Either choice might be a good reason, but which is it?

If it's a deterent then maybe that's the reason I can't vote for it. Long ago, my Dad used to walk over to Mexico to buy my Mom cheap cigarettes. He had quit himself, years earlier, but they had a limited retirement income, and he saw this as one way to help out. When she finally quit, though, it was for health reasons, not financial ones. Money wasn't the object, she said. It was logic.

I didn't vote for Prop 15, and I don't own a gun. Y'all remember Prop 15 don't ya? That's the one which would have limited the number of handguns available in our state to those already here? I would have been first one in line at the local gunshop had that passed. I didn't own a gun. Just didn't want my rights to own a gun limited, should I ever want one. Similar thing with cigarette taxes. I don't smoke (don't like the smell), but I don't think it's right to punish those that do with excessive taxes.

If it's a money raising effort for research, then I question that. Aren't we already funding stem cell reaseach which will benefit everybody? Where does it stop? I mean, we can't save humanity in this one state.

I'll vote against it. But since I really don't have a pulse for the electorate, I can't make a prediction how others will. At best, It should be a national effort. I'm just not hearing the right questions (and answers) in the journalistic debate.


onemore4acure May 24, 2012 @ 8:21 a.m.

Another California newspaper said this, and this sums up why I'll vote YES on Prop 29:

"If you took all the money from this tax, raked it into a big pile and set fire to it, Proposition 29 would still be a great deal. Raising tobacco taxes reduces smoking, and that will save California taxpayers billions of dollars in medical costs, not to mention sparing millions of people the misery of addiction or of watching loved ones destroy their health."

Of course the tobacco companies are spending tens of millions of dollars to try to confuse us into voting no. Tobacco companies want our kids to smoke their Newports, Camels and Marlboros. They want our kids as customers, addicted for life.

But I'm joining the Cancer, Heart, Lung Associations, Lance Armstrong and the California PTA and voting YES on Prop 29.


Visduh May 24, 2012 @ 10:30 a.m.

It is hard to beleive that the sales tax/state income tax increase proposal is likely to pass. I'd have thought it was a dead duck. Since the sales tax levy is "only" a quarter percent and "temporary", it doesn't bother enough people. The "millionarie's tax" is likely to drive enough high income earners out of state to actually reduce the income tax take rather than increasing it. It won't balance the state budget. Only a big economic rebound will do that. Raising taxes isn't going to boost the state's economy.


SurfPuppy619 May 24, 2012 @ 10:33 a.m.

I already voted- NO on 29.

I also do not think for one second the sales/pension tax will pass.

Remember the polls also said Arnolds tax hikes-1a-1g- would pass 3 years ago, they ALL failed spectacularly.

I have said it before-I have $100 to all takers who think the sales tax will pass, it fails bigtime. Bring it on losers.


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