Los Angeles Times
Saturday, May 23, 1998
THE TIMES POLL
Support Slips for Prop. 226, Not Prop. 227
By CATHLEEN DECKER, Times Political Writer
On the heels of a vociferous advertising campaign against it, support
for a statewide initiative that would gut the political power of organized
labor has shrunk dramatically, the Los Angeles Times Poll has found.
spending about $15 million to press their case, likely voters now support
Proposition 226 by a 51%-37% margin, the poll has found. In a Times poll
taken last month, the ballot measure was overwhelmingly popular, winning
by a 66%-26% margin.
ballot measure, Proposition 227, which would essentially end bilingual
education in California, continues to be highly popular. Its 63%-23% backing
is unchanged since April.
is currently supported by about two-thirds of both registered Latino and
white voters, a consensus that was absent in the state's past battles over
racially sensitive initiatives on illegal immigration and affirmative action.
file Latinos are not united behind the 'No on 227' campaign like their
community leaders are," said Times Poll Director Susan Pinkus. "They
have kids in school, and they want them to do well. This is not a polarizing
initiative at this point."
The poll also
showed that past support by likely voters for Proposition 223, which would
tightly limit spending for school administration, has ebbed, leaving the
results essentially a draw.
In other findings,
the poll determined that most voters still have little idea about their
choices for several other statewide races, including those for lieutenant
governor and attorney general. Most were also undecided about the initiatives
until they were given explanations.
major factor in California elections--has had a clear impact. Not only
were the results of the most hotly contested initiative changed in the
wake of a massive commercial war, but the ads also boosted the fortunes
of candidates in more obscure races. The one who benefited the most was
state Sen. Bill Lockyer (D-Hayward), who has mounted the most noticeable
television campaign of those races. In the past month, Lockyer has doubled
his support in the Democratic race for attorney general, finishing with
27% among likely voters. The next highest candidate, Republican David Stirling,
From May 16-20,
the Times Poll interviewed 1,097 registered voters in California, including
506 voters considered likely to cast ballots. The margin of sampling error
for registered voters is three percentage points in either direction; the
margin for likely voters is five points in either direction.
The trend on
Proposition 226 provides a telling example of the impact of television.
When the Times Poll surveyed voters in April, ads against the initiative
had not yet run. All told, 71% of likely voters said they had no opinion
then about the measure before they were read the ballot language. Simply
put, it would require labor unions to get annual permission from a member
before using his or her dues for political purposes.
Now, the likely
voter group with no opinion has shrunk to 38%.
have also swung dramatically. Support for the initiative, once it is explained
to voters, dropped from 66% last month to 51%. Opposition rose from 26%
to 37%. In other words, an initiative that led by 40 points in April is
now ahead by 14 points.
'no' campaign continues to get out its message, it could drive opposition
to above 50% and hold it there," said Sharon Pinkerton, associate
director of the Times Poll.
Beliefs have changed among both union and nonunion members.
In April, union
members who were registered to vote supported the measure by a 58%-28%
margin. Now, they oppose it by a 53%-36% margin. Among nonunion members,
the proposition still leads, but more narrowly than before. In April, they
supported it by a massive 66%-23%; now it holds a comfortable but smaller
the measure is apparently being undercut by the lack of strong anti-labor
sentiment among voters. Only 31% of likely voters say that labor wields
too much political power, while 19% said it has too little. Thirty-five
percent said labor has the right amount of political influence.
with the movement on the union measure, sentiment on the anti-bilingual
initiative, Proposition 227, has barely changed despite English- and Spanish-language
advertising. Among likely voters, 63% favor it and 23% oppose it, exactly
the numbers the poll found in April. Among the larger group of registered
voters, 63% approved and 25% opposed it, nearly equivalent to the 63%-24%
margin in April.
the measure have counted on unified opposition by Latinos, but the poll
showed that that has yet to occur. Among Latino registered voters, 62%
supported it, about the same as the 64% of whites who backed it. Also,
26% of Latino registered voters opposed it, as did 23% of whites.
numbers for whites have remained constant, Latino support has actually
grown in the past month, from 50% in April to 62% now. The level among
likely Latino voters, however, remains lower, but Latinos still support
the measure. Most blacks also support the measure, though by a slightly
223, which would require that 95% of a school district's budget be spent
in the classroom, has slipped in popularity. Overall, 40% of likely voters
say they support it and a virtually equal 38% oppose it. In April, the
measure led by 29 points, 55%-26%.
of the poll on the constitutional offices below governor confirm what California
television audiences know: Most of the races are nearly invisible. Thus,
Californians are having difficulty making a decision.
In all of the
races, a substantial segment of likely voters said they don't know enough
about the candidates to come to a decision, ranging from 28% in the race
for insurance commissioner to 55% in the contest for lieutenant governor.
In the lieutenant
governor's race, former Assembly Speaker Cruz Bustamante has bolted into
the lead. He had 19% of likely voters, three times the 6% registered by
former Deputy Secretary of State Tony Miller. Republicans were tightly
packed, with state Sen. Richard Mountjoy of Arcadia at 9%, state Sen. Tim
Leslie of Carnelian Bay at 6% and businesswoman Noel Irwin-Hentschel of
Los Angeles at 5%.
ahead in the contest for attorney general, his 27 points among likely voters
easily outdistancing fellow Democrats Charles M. Calderon of Los Angeles
at 4% and former Congresswoman Lynn Schenk at 3%. Stirling led fellow Republican
Mike Capizzi, 10% to 5%. In
the race for controller, where the only major candidates for the Republican
and Democratic nominations are virtually assured their nominations, the
race is an early marker for the general election. There, incumbent Democrat
Kathleen Connell has a comfortable lead over Republican Ruben Barrales,
a San Mateo County supervisor, 41%-26%.
Republican Secretary of State Bill Jones, has improved his standing, pulling
ahead of Democrat Michela Alioto by a 36%-30% margin among likely voters.
They were statistically tied in April, with Jones at 33% and Alioto at
A third incumbent,
Republican insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush, held onto his lead
among likely voters, with 41%. His Democratic opponents, Marin County Supervisor
Hal Brown and Assemblywoman Diane Martinez of Los Angeles, had 12% and
And the last
of the incumbents, Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin,
held a 31% to 16% lead over Gloria Matta Tuchman, the Santa Ana teacher
who is among the organizers of the anti-bilingual education initiative.
The open seat
of state treasurer is provoking a contest for the Republican nomination.
Former Assembly Speaker Curt Pringle of Orange County is running behind
Assemblyman Jan Goldsmith of Poway among likely voters, 15%-9%. Former
Democratic state party Chairman Phil Angelides had 27%.
* * *
Opposition to Propositions 223 and 226 has increased substantially
in the past month, according to a new Los Angeles Times poll. But Proposition
227, which would dismantle bilingual education in California, continues
to enjoy strong support.
If the June election were held today, how would you vote on these ballot
initiatives? (among likely voters)
||(Spending limits on
| (Union dues)
* * * Why would you vote FOR Prop. 227? (asked of those who support
it; two replies accepted; top four responses shown)
If you live in America, you need to speak English: 57%
Bilingual programs hurt students who don't speak English: 12%
Prefer immersion programs: 11%
Bilingual education is not effective: 10%
* * * Why would you vote AGAINST Prop. 227? (asked of those opposed to
it; two replies accepted; top four responses shown)
It costs too much: 14%
Students who don't speak English will fall behind: 13%
Bilingual education works: 13%
It discriminates against students who don't speak English: 12%
Note: Percentages may not total 100 where more than one reply was accepted
from each respondent or some answer categories are not shown.
HOW THE POLL WAS CONDUCTED
The Times Pol contacted 1,514 California adults, including 1,097 registered
voters and 506 likely voters, by telephone May 16 through 20. Telephone
numbers were chosen from a list of all exchanges in the state. Random-digit
dialing techniques were used so that listed and non-listed numbers could
be contacted. The entire sample was weighted slightly to conform with census
figures for sex, race, age, education, region and registration. The margin
of sampling error for the entire sample and registered voters is plus or
minus 3 percentage points; for likely voters it is 5 points. For certain
subgroups the error margin may be somewhat higher. Poll results can also
be affected by other factors such as question wording and the order in
which questions are presented. Interviews were conducted in English and
Spanish. Times Poll results are also available on the World Wide Web at