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Support for Proposition 30 drops below 50 percent

Wu_Suzanneby Suzanne Wu
The tax initiative has seen a sharp decline from support of 55 percent of voters last month.
Photo: The tax initiative has seen a sharp decline from support of 55 percent of voters last month.

With the election less than two weeks away, the largest survey of registered voters in the state shows support for Proposition 30 continuing a downward slide. For the first time, support for Gov. Jerry Brown’s ballot initiative has dropped below 50 percent, according to the results of the latest USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences/Los Angeles Times Poll.

In the poll conducted Oct. 15-21, 46 percent of California voters favor the initiative, and 42 percent oppose it — a sharp decline from support of 55 percent of voters last month and 64 percent in March. Thirty-three percent of voters opposed Proposition 30 in March, and 36 percent opposed it in September.

“The challenge for Gov. Brown is that even though Californians seem more willing to raise taxes than has been the case in many years, they still don’t believe that state government will spend their tax dollars wisely,” said Dan Schnur, director of the poll and director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. “The governor simply has to find a way to convince voters that he is fiscally responsible enough to be trusted before they’ll vote for his initiative.”

Support for Proposition 30 — which would temporarily increase the state sales tax by a quarter cent and personal income tax on people earning more than $250,000 a year to fund public education and public safety — has fallen across demographic lines. Among registered Democratic voters, support for the initiative fell 5 percentage points in the last month. Among Republican voters, support fell 8 points. Among voters without party affiliation, support also fell 8 points.

“This initiative has been targeted by large amounts of advertising from both the left and the right, so it’s not surprising that all those ads have taken a toll,” Schnur said. “Republican support is dropping as a result of the attacks from the campaign against Prop. 30, and Democrats are slipping away after hearing the message from the Prop. 38 campaign.

“The governor can get this passed without Republican support, but it appears that the message from Prop. 30 is killing him with Democratic voters,” Schnur added.

Nine percent of voters surveyed said they had already voted. Of those who had already voted, 48 percent said they voted in favor of Proposition 30 and 42 percent voted against it.

“The legacy of Prop. 38 will be what happens to Prop. 30,” said Dave Kanevsky, research director of Republican polling firm American Viewpoint, which conducted the poll with Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner on behalf of USC and the Los Angeles Times. “With Prop. 30 in a tight race, having some opposition from your left flank might be what helps kills it.”

In contrast to results on Proposition 30, Brown’s approval rating has held steady in the last month, with 45 percent of California voters approving his job as governor, and 42 percent disapproved. In September, 46 percent of voters approved of the job being done by Brown, and 37 percent disapproved.

Proposition 38, which would raise income taxes for most Californians on a sliding scale for 12 years to fund education and repay the state debt, also lost ground in the latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll, despite significantly outspending the opposition.

“It seems that Prop. 38 — and the idea of raising middle-class taxes without dedicating all revenue to education — strikes people as a bad idea. The yes side has outspent the opposition by 1,000-fold, and it’s not just losing by a big margin but has actually lost ground,” said Drew Lieberman, vice president of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. “Prop. 38 could ultimately have a small impact on support for Prop. 30, but as a viable option, it’s not on the table the way Prop. 30 is.”

Follow all election news coverage at Election 2012, a resource for journalists and others interested in politics created by USC Media Relations.

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