Initiative Update:
Support for November Tax Initiative Is Weak, Pollster Finds

Three tax-related initiatives on the November ballot may not fare well with voters, according to the latest findings from the Field Poll. Likely voters told pollsters they have little support for Governor Jerry Brown's tax initiative, Molly Munger's tax increase or a mandatory single sales factor initiative promoted by hedge fund manager Tom Steyer.

Field Poll reported that if the election were held today, 54 percent of likely voters would vote "yes" on the governor's tax initiative (with 8 percent undecided), 46 percent would vote "yes" on Ms. Munger's initiative (with 8 percent undecided), and 44 percent would vote "yes" on the mandatory single sales factor initiative (with 13 percent undecided).

Capitol observers generally agree that an initiative that doesn't have at least 60 percent support in early polls – before opponents begin major campaigns to voice their concerns – will have a tough time passing on Election Day.

The biggest divide revealed by the Field Poll was among party registrations, with Republicans opposing all three tax measures. Voters without a party preference voiced support for the governor's initiative, but opposed the other two measures.

The poll also found that if the governor and Legislature increase funding for the state's costly high-speed rail project, one-fifth of voters would be less likely to support the governor's tax initiative. Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said: "Here you have an unpopular, multibillion-dollar long-term project kind of rearing its head in the middle of this budget-cutting. It undercuts that whole message, and that's really what's jeopardizing the Brown measure."

If voters had a chance to reconsider the 2008 bond measure that launched the high-speed rail project, they likely would reject it this time around, the Field Poll found.

With regard to the mandatory single sales factor initiative, Mr. DiCamillo said: "I think given the weakness of the state's economy, voters really are hesitant about socking it to business. At another time, if the economy were doing a little better, I think this Steyer measure would be supported by a larger margin, at least at the early going." (Source: The Sacramento Bee, July 5.)

July 6, 2012
2012 California Taxpayers Association. All Rights Reserved.