Berkeley IGS Poll: Defeat For California Prop 16, Diversity, Prop 21, Rent Control, Unless Young Voters Show.
Was just passed a wake-up call press release on a UC Berkeley Institute Of Government Studies poll that, once again, points to the need for California to split into two states, something that may never happen in this blogger’s lifetime. Cut to the chase: Prop 16 and Prop 21 are in trouble unless young people get out and vote in large numbers.
Close Elections Forecast for Proposition 15 (Split Roll Property Taxes) and Proposition 22 (App-based Drivers)
Prop. 16 (Diversity) and Prop. 21(Rent Control) trail
by Mark DiCamillo, Director, Berkeley Institute Of Governmental Studies Poll
The final pre-election Berkeley IGS Poll finds that Californians are closely divided on two of the most contentious of this year’s state ballot propositions. These include Proposition 15, the “split roll” initiative to tax commercial and industrial properties based on current market value instead of its purchase price, and Proposition 22, the app-based drivers initiative whose aim is to classify such workers as independent contractors rather than employees. In both cases slightly more of those polled said they either already had or were intending to vote Yes than were voting No. However, neither initiative had reached the 50% plus one voter threshold needed for passage two weeks before Election Day at the time the poll was completed.
The poll found 49% of voters in favor of Prop. 15 and 42% on the No side, with 9% undecided. Yet, this lead was less than half the 15-point advantage found in a similar Berkeley IGS Poll last month. When comparing the two polls, the proportion of voters opposed to the initiative had increased 8 points, while support for Prop. 15 was stagnant. If history is any guide, when late campaign shifts toward the No side are observed in heavily contested and well-financed ballot measures like Prop. 15, its lead tends to reduce further in the closing weeks, resulting in a closer outcome.
With regard to Prop. 22, 46% of the voters polled were voting Yes to have app-based drivers be treated as independent contractors, while 42% were voting No to classify them as employees. A sizable 12% were undecided. The early mid-September Berkeley IGS Poll found 39% of likely voters intend to vote Yes on Prop. 22 and 36% are on the No side, with 25% undecided. The relatively large proportions of undecided voters in both polls suggest that many voters were having a difficult time reaching a final decision on this initiative. How these late-deciding voters ultimately come to judgment will likely determine its fate.
The poll finds less support for two other, closely watched measures on the statewide election ballot. These include Proposition 16, an initiative to bring greater diversity into public employment, education, and contracting decisions and overturn a previously approved 1996 ballot initiative, Proposition 209, that banned such affirmative action programs, and Proposition 21, an initiative to expand the authority of local governments to enact rent control laws on residential property. Both measures trailed by double-digit margins in the latest poll, with each receiving less than 40% support.
IGS Co-Director Eric Schickler commented that “the fates of Propositions 15 and 22 will be important signals of whether the state’s Democrats can translate their electoral advantage into substantive policy changes in taxes and corporate governance.”
Voters in conflict over competing arguments relating to Proposition 15
In an attempt to better understand voter motivations behind the vote on Prop. 15, the poll asked voters whether they agreed or disagreed with two statements that have been made about Proposition 15, one by initiative proponents and the other by its opponents. The results demonstrate the conflict that many voters face when making a final voting decision on this initiative.
When asked the statement that Prop. 15 will bring much needed revenues to the state’s public schools, community colleges and local governments, 47% of voters agree, while 37% disagree. Opinions about the need for these additional revenues were highly correlated with voting preferences on Prop. 15, with those voting Yes overwhelmingly in agreement (79% to 8%), while No voters disagreed 76% to 13%. Significantly, undecided voters were more likely to agree than disagree, 40% to 13%, although nearly half (47%) had no opinion.
On the other hand, an even larger majority agree that the proposed changes to the way commercial and industrial properties are to be taxed under Prop. 15 would only be the first step in bringing about similar changes to the way residential properties are taxed in the future. A 56% majority of likely voters agreed with this statement, while 19% disagreed and 25% had no opinion. Voters opposed to the initiative overwhelmingly concurred with the statement, 72% to 13%. And even a plurality of Prop. 15’s supporters agreed (47% to 24%), although many had no opinion.
Voting preferences on Prop. 15 vary across major segments of the electorate
The poll finds clear partisan and ideological divisions in voter preferences on Prop. 15. Democrats and self-described liberal voters were favoring the initiative by large margins, while Republicans and conservatives were one-sided in their opposition.
Homeowners were intending to vote No by 10 points, while renters were supporting Prop. 15 by 25 points. Regionally, support for the initiative was greatest among voters in Los Angeles County, the San Francisco Bay Area, while majorities of voters in Orange County and the Central Valley were opposed.
Opinions on Prop. 15 also varied by a voter’s age and educational background. Voters under age 40 were among the initiative’s strongest backers, while pluralities of voters age 50 or older were voting No, especially those age 75 or older. Majorities of voters holding a bachelors’ degree and those who had completed post graduate work were lining up on the Yes side, while pluralities of non-college graduates were voting No.
Subgroup variations on Prop. 22 (App-based Drivers)
Republicans were supporting Prop. 22, the app-based drivers initiative 71% to 21%, while Democrats were opposed, although not by as large a margin, 52% to 34%. No Party Preference and minor party voters were closely divided on the initiative.
Views of Prop. 22 also differed by political ideology as large majorities of conservatives were voting Yes and majorities of liberals were voting No. Significantly, the poll found self-described political moderates backing the initiative by thirteen points, 49% to 36%, with 15% undecided.
There were also big differences in voting preferences by age. The poll found majorities of voters under age 40 on the No side, while pluralities of voters age 50 or older were in favor, in particular, those age 75 or older, who supported it two to one.
On a regional basis, Yes side voters were outnumbering No voters on Prop. 22 across all regions of the state with the exception of the San Francisco Bay Area where it trailed by twenty points and Los Angeles County and the counties north of San Francisco where voters were divided.
While differences were also evident between voters living in union-affiliated households and those in non-union households, these differences were not as large as might be expected given the nature of the initiative and the fact that the state’s labor unions are among its strongest opponents. Voters living in union-affiliated households were opposing the initiative by 51% to 40%, while voters in non-union households were voting in favor 47% to 41%.
In addition, the poll found the state’s Latinos and Asian American voters closely divided on the initiative, while Black voters were backing it by 20 points and whites favoring it by 5 points.
Voting preferences on Prop. 16 (Diversity in Public Employment, Education and Contracting)
When asked how they would vote on Prop. 16, the poll found just 38% of voters backing the measure, while 49% were opposed. While Democrats were supporting the initiative by a nearly two-to-one margin (57% to 26%), Republicans were nearly unanimous in their opposition, with 86% voting No and just 6% voting Yes. Majorities of No Party Preference and minor party voters were also lining up on the No side.
Voting preferences also differed widely by a voter’s self-described political ideology, with more than eight in ten conservatives voting No, and large majorities of liberals voting Yes. However, political moderates, a major swing voting bloc, were opposing Prop. 16 by twenty-three points.
Opposition to Prop. 16 was broad-based across the state’s major geographic regions, with majorities or pluralities of voters in nearly all regions voting No. The lone exception was the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area, where voters were narrowly in favor, 48% to 40%.
While Prop. 16 was being backed by the state’s Black voters by twenty-five points, the state’s Latino voters were about evenly divided. On the other hand, the poll found Asian American voters now joining whites in opposing the initiative.
IGS Co-Director Cristina Mora noted that “the absence of strong Latino support for Proposition 16 is surprising given that the community remains significantly underrepresented in higher education and public employment in California and would stand to benefit from the Proposition’s passage.”
Women voters, another key segment, were closely dividing their votes, with 41% voting Yes and 44% voting No. By contrast, men were heavily on the No side, 54% to 35%.
In addition, the poll found differences in voting preferences by education, with voters non-college graduates opposing Prop. 16 five to three, while voters who had completed post graduate work were backing the initiative by eleven points.
Voter preferences on Prop. 21 (Rent Control)
With regard to Prop 21, just 37% of the voters polled were on the Yes side, while 48% were voting No, and another 15% undecided. Just two years ago California voters rejected a similar rent control ballot initiative 59% to 41%.
The partisan divide in voter preferences on Prop. 21 resembles that of Prop. 16. While Democrats were supporting the initiative roughly two to one (53% to 29%), Republicans were overwhelmingly opposed, 83% to 9%. Pluralities of No Party Preference and minor party voters were also lining up on the No side.
In addition, conservative voters were solidly opposed, while liberals, especially those describing themselves as very liberal were voting Yes. Political moderates were also voting No by seventeen points.
As would be expected, big differences are seen between renters and homeowners on the rent control initiative, with renters backing the initiative 50% to 34%, but homeowners opposed by an even greater 61% to 26% margin.
Preferences on Prop. 21 were also tied to the income level of voters. Majorities of voters at the upper end of the income scale were voting No, while pluralities of voters at the lower end were on the Yes side. Middle-income voters, those whose households earned between $40,000 and $100,000 annually, were also narrowly on the No side.
The poll found the state’s whites opposing the rent control initiative by a wide margin. Black voters were backing the rent control initiative greater than two to one. Latinos were also supportive by a narrower 10-point margin; while the state’s Asian American voters were narrowly on the No side.
There were gender differences on Prop. 21 as well, with male voters opposed by seventeen points (52% to 35%) and women about evenly divided.
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