As the guest speaker at a luncheon today in Sacramento, part of series of talks featuring women in high-level positions, Nancy McFadden, a top adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown, was asked some questions about Proposition 30, which is a very high-stakes measure for her boss. Its outcome could make or break his hoped-for legacy of becoming the governor who came in and got California's finances squared away.
McFadden used a curious word to describe Proposition 30, calling it a "resilient initiative." What she meant is that despite all the background environmental factors stacked against it -- the high percentage of voters who believe the state is headed in the wrong direction, the high level of what she called "doubts and distrust" about government, and the basic reality that "nobody likes taxes" -- the measure continues to hold a slight but steady lead in the public opinion polling. Month after month, in poll after poll, it shows a support level in the low-to-mid 50 percent range.
The most recent poll was released today by the California Business Roundtable and Pepperdine University, the fourth in an intriguing series of online "tracking" polls it is conducting on the 11 statewide ballot measures. It showed that Proposition 30 continues to be resilient -- checking in this time at 54.4 percent yes, 39.9 percent no. Those results have not varied outside the poll's 3.5 percent margin of error since the middle of summer.
The polls will continue every two weeks, giving the public a glimpse of how campaign advertising and other factors will influence voter opinion as time goes by.
Today's poll shows a dramatic, if not unsurprising, partisan split. Only 19 percent of Republicans support it; only 16 percent of Democrats oppose it. On this measure, clearly, the decisions of independents will be determinative, and at this point 60.6 percent of independents are in favor.