USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Press Release
Support for Governor’s Tax Initiative Continues to Erode
But Brown’s pension reforms get high marks from voters.
Contact: Suzanne Wu at email@example.com or (213) 740-0252; Michelle Salzman at firstname.lastname@example.org or (213) 821-9311.
A press call discussing these results and additional ballot initiatives on taxes is TODAY, Sept. 28 at 10:30 a.m. PT. Call-in spots are limited. Call-in number: (800) 398-9367.
September 28, 2012 — A majority of Calif. voters support a November ballot initiative that would temporarily increase the state’s income tax on high earners and raise the sales tax, but this support has taken a tumble in the last few months, according to the latest results from the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll.
Backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, Prop. 30 would raise the state income tax on those earning more than $250,000 a year for seven years and increase the sales tax by a quarter of a cent to fund public education and public safety.
In the latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll, 54 percent of voters said they support Prop. 30, while 37 percent oppose the measure when read the ballot language. This is a decline in support of nearly 10 percentage points since March 2012, when the poll showed 64 percent of Californians in support of the measure, and 33 percent opposed.
Support for Prop. 30 declined even more when voters were read two brief statements outlining positions for and against the measure. The first statement said, “after years of deficit spending, Governor Brown has cut billions in spending. We have made progress but we still have serious budget problems” and argued we should take a stand against further cuts to education and public safety, make the wealthy pay their fair share and help balance the budget.
The second statement said “Sacramento politicians need to cut wasteful spending before raising our taxes” and mentioned high-speed rail and salary increases in Sacramento. When read these statements, support for the initiative dropped to 48 percent of voters in favor, and 43 percent against the measure.
“Californians are usually very resistant to raising taxes on themselves, but the prospect of big spending cuts to public education has helped Proposition 30 preserve its lead,” said Dan Schnur, Director of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll and Director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. "But any initiative that that is so close to 50 percent in the polls is vulnerable, and these results show that the opposition message is convincing. The question is whether the opposition has the money to make sure their message is heard."
But while overall support for Brown’s ballot proposition has declined, the intensity of support for the measure has increased slightly. In March 2012, 37 percent of voters strongly favored Prop. 30, compared to 41 percent who strongly favor it in the latest poll, conducted Sept. 17-23.
“Intensity matters in a ballot issue and who votes, and while the level of support for Prop. 30 has gone down over three polls and there is still a majority, this one looks to be very close,” said Stan Greenberg, CEO of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a Democratic polling firm that conducted the poll with Republican polling firm American Viewpoint.
Support for Prop. 30 was starkly split along age, with 75 percent of 18-29 year-old voters supporting the measure, compared to 46 percent of those 50 and over.
Overall, Democratic voters were 69-20 in support of Prop. 30, Republican voters were 28-64, and voters who indicated no party preference were 58-32.
“The news out of Sacramento has been creating downward pressure on Proposition 30, and the more voters hear about it, the less likely they are to support it,” said Dave Kanevsky, Research Director of American Viewpoint. “This is a ballot measure that could die a death by a thousand cuts.”
One of those thousand cuts could be the competing November ballot initiative backed by attorney Molly Munger, which would raise income taxes for most Californians on a sliding scale. Munger’s initiative, Prop. 38, was opposed by a majority of voters in the latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll.
Fifty-two percent of voters oppose Prop. 38, while 34 percent support it. When read an additional statement describing the fiscal impact of the initiative — including $10 billion in new revenues over the next two years — the numbers barely budged, with 50 percent opposing the initiative and 39 percent in favor.
“It’s very rare to see support for an initiative grow as the campaign goes on,” Schnur said. “Munger’s chances are slim, but with her first ads directly engaging Prop. 30, this could have an effect on the Governor’s initiative.”
PUBLIC EMPLOYEE PENSIONS
Voters largely support the recent law limiting public employee pensions and raising the retirement age – and they may have the appetite for more, according to the latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll.
Forty-five percent of voters agreed with a statement that the law is a fair, balanced solution that makes some much-needed changes to balance the budget long-term, while also protecting public employees.
But 39 percent of voters said that the largest pension reform in California history did not go far enough, arguing that public employees continue to receive much more generous pensions than people who work in the private sector and that the reforms only tackle a fraction of the state’s pension obligations.
The law also caps benefits for the highest-paid employees. Overall, 20 percent of voters said the reform went too far, including 34 percent of Latino voters. Thirty percent said the law did not go far enough, and 31 percent said it struck a good balance between reforming the pension system and reducing the impact of pensions on the state debt.
“Jerry Brown needed a pension reform package that passed the smell test with voters in order to pass his ballot initiative,” Schnur said. “It appears he got enough to help him in November, but in the long run there is further appetite for pension reform.”
The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll was conducted from Sept. 17-23, 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.
Additional poll results and methodology are available at http://gqrr.com/index.php?ID=2790
FOR MEDIA: A press call discussing these poll results and voter opinion on Prop. 37 is Friday, Sept. 28 at 10:30 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 email@example.com or (213) 740-0252.
United States: (800) 398-9367
International: (612) 332-0634
About the USC Dana and David 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 Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences: USC Dana and David 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.