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USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Press Release

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Support Slips for Ballot Measure to Require Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods

Prop. 32 continues to struggle for voter support

Contact: Suzanne Wu at suzanne.wu@usc.edu or (213) 740-0252; Michelle Salzman at msalzman@dornsife.usc.edu or (213) 821-9311.

A press call discussing these results and additional results on Props. 30 and 38 is TODAY, Oct. 25 at 11:00 a.m. PT. Call-in spots are limited. Call-in number: (800) 230-1085.

October 25, 2012 — Over the past month support for Proposition 37 has sharply declined among California voters, according to results of the latest USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences/ Los Angeles Times Poll.

The ballot initiative, which would require new labeling for food that contains genetically modified ingredients, currently garners support from 44 percent of California voters — a 17 point drop from a USC Dornsife/L.A. Times Poll conducted in September 2012. The latest poll shows 42 percent of voters oppose the measure and 13 percent are undecided. In September, 61 percent of voters supported the measure, 25 percent opposed it and 13 percent were undecided.

As opponents of the ballot initiative have poured money into advertising against the measure — with funding levels of nearly 5 to 1 more than their adversaries — proponents of the proposition have struggled to keep up.

"A term like 'genetically modified food sounds very scary so its not surprising that support for the measure was initially so strong," said Dan Schnur, director of the USC Dornsife/L.A. Times Poll and director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. "The challenge for the opposition has been to convince voters that there are economic consequences such as increased grocery prices to consider, and it appears that they are in the process of doing just that."

"But the most significant driving force behind this shift is the amount of money that the opposition has put into the campaign. When voters hear a message so much more strongly from one side than the other, it's not surprising to see the poll numbers move like this," Schnur said.

Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, and Marc Lifsher, a Los Angeles Times reporter, discuss respondents' views on Proposition 37.

Support for Prop. 37 has also slipped significantly across party lines. Among registered Democrats, support has declined by 12 percentage points since September, with 54-32 percent favoring the initiative. Registered Republicans oppose the initiative 30-58 percent (a decline of 19 points since September) and Decline to State voters favor the initiative 49-36 percent (down 14 points).

Younger Californians continue to support the measure when compared to older voters, but their margin of support has also slipped since the September 2012 poll. Voters age 18 to 49 support the initiative 55-35 percent (down 11 points since September); voters 50 and over now overwhelming oppose the measure by 36-49 percent (a decline of 20 points since September).

Men and women's support of the ballot initiative has also dipped: men now oppose the measure by a margin of 40-48 percent (previously males supported it by 54-32 percent). Women continue to support the initiative by 49-37 percent, however that margin has tightened significantly since September when females supported the measure by a margin of 67-19 percent.

Proposition 32 still struggling to gain ground with California voters

According to the latest USC Dornsife/L.A. Times Poll, California voters continue to oppose Proposition 32, the ballot initiative that seeks to restrict the amount of money that unions and businesses could spend on political activity.

Forty-six percent of voters oppose the measure, a two-point increase from the September 2012 poll. Thirty-nine percent support it, up from 36 percent in September, and 13 percent are undecided, a six-point drop.

Union members are sharply opposed to the measure. When asked how they would vote for the Prop. 32, 59 percent of union members said they would vote ‘no,’ and 30 percent said that they would vote ‘yes.’ In September 2012, opposition was slightly lower with 54 percent of union members opposed and 34 percent in favor.

Opposition to Proposition 32 increased when voters were read a pair of statements outlining positions for and against the measure. The first statement in support said, “Proposition 32 is the reform we need to end the huge influence of unions and big corporations in Sacramento that costs taxpayers billions,” noting the measure would prevent special interests from making campaign contributions to receive special favors from politicians such as multimillion dollar tax loopholes and sweetheart pension deals.

The second statement said, “Proposition 32 is a corporate power grab. Of course we need to reduce the influence of powerful special interests on elected officials, but Prop. 32 is not real reform,” arguing that the measure has major loopholes that would silence working families while exempting thousands of Wall Street banks and insurance companies, allowing those business interests to spend more money influencing politicians.

When read these statements, opposition to the initiative increased to 50 percent, with 41 percent “strongly opposed.” Thirty-six percent of voters were in favor of the measure, with 28 percent supporting it “strongly.”

The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll was conducted from Oct. 15-21, 2012, by Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Republican polling firm American Viewpoint. The full sample of 1,504 registered voters has a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points.

Poll results and methodology are available here.

FOR MEDIA: A press call discussing these results and additional ballot initiatives is TODAY, Oct. 25 at 11:00 a.m. PT with political analysts from the Unruh Institute of Politics at USC and representatives of polling firms Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and American Viewpoint.

Call-in spots are limited. To reserve a spot for the phone conference, RSVP to Suzanne Wu at suzanne.wu@usc.edu or (213) 740-0252.

Call-in numbers:
    United States: (800) 230-1085             
    International: (612) 234-9959

WEBSITE: /poll
TWITTER: @usclatpoll

About the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences/Los Angeles Times Poll: The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll is a series of statewide public opinion polls in California, designed to survey voter attitudes on a wide range of political, policy, social and cultural issues.

Conducted at regular intervals throughout the year, the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll is one of the largest polls of registered voters in the state and has been widely cited, helping to inform the public and to encourage discourse on key political and policy issues.

About USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences: USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences is the heart of the university. The largest, oldest and most diverse of USC's 19 schools, USC Dornsife is composed of more than 30 academic departments and dozens of research centers and institutes. USC Dornsife is home to approximately 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students and more than 750 faculty members with expertise across the humanities, social sciences and sciences.

About the Los Angeles Times: The Los Angeles Times is the largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the country, with a daily readership of 2 million and 3 million on Sunday, and a combined print and interactive local weekly audience of 4.5 million. The fast-growing latimes.com draws over 10 million unique visitors monthly.