Los Angeles Times
Saturday, May 23, 1998
Prop. 227 Remains Strong
By SHARON PINKERTON, Times Associate Poll Director
In the absence of a strong campaign against it, Prop. 227 appears to
be coasting toward victory on election day. There has been no change in
the high level of support for the English-only initiative since it was
last measured in April. Prop. 226, the union dues measure, however, has
taken a hit. Support has dropped precipitously since opponents of the measure
launched a paid media campaign against it. Down-ballot races have yet to
catch the attention of the electorate and most voters remain undecided.
With just over one week until the June 2
primary election, Prop. 227, a measure that would essentially end bilingual
education in public schools throughout the state, continues to hold a high
level of support according to a recent Los Angeles Times poll. Despite
a recently launched--but limited--television advertising campaign against
the measure (and no televised media campaign by its proponents) nearly
two-thirds of voters would vote yes to pass the measure if the election
were held today. Unlike Prop. 227, Prop. 226, which would require unions
to get permission from members before using union dues for political purposes,
has lost significant support. This decline reflects the barrage of advertising
by opponents of the measure.
Voters have heard little from candidates
for down-ballot races. As a result, with less than two weeks before they
will be asked to decide California's next leaders, most voters remain uncertain
about for whom they will cast their vote on June 2 and most races remain
Prop. 227: The English language in public schools initiative
Prop. 227 continues to receive strong
and broad-based support among the California electorate as a whole and
among voters most likely to turn out to vote on June 2. When voters were
first asked their opinion of Prop. 227 and told only that it "deals
with teaching English language in public schools," 38% of registered
voters and 44% of likely voters said they would vote in favor of the measure
and just 17% of registered voters and 19% of likely voters said they would
oppose it. The remaining 45% of registered and 37% of likely voters were
uncertain. This result has changed little from one month ago when a Times
poll found that 33% of registered voters and 40% of likely voters favored
the measure, 12% of registered voters and 13% of likely voters opposed
it and 55% of registered voters and 47% of likely voters were uncertain.
After hearing the ballot language, support
rises dramatically, with 63% of both registered and likely voters now saying
they will vote for the measure. Just 25% of registered voters and 23% of
likely voters would oppose it (the remaining 12% and 14%, respectively,
were uncertain). Again, there was little change from one month ago when
63% of registered and likely voters said they would vote in favor of Prop.
227 and 24% of registered and 23% of likely voters said they would vote
against it (13% and 14%, respectively, were uncertain at that time). If
opponents of Prop. 227 fail to get out their messages against the measure
in the short period of time remaining in the campaign, Prop. 227 will most
likely pass on election day.
Prop. 227 continues to draw support across
party lines, with 61% of registered Democrats, 59% of independents and
66% of Republicans saying they would vote in favor of Prop. 227 after hearing
the ballot language. There has been a slight increase in opposition among
registered Democrats and independents, although support remains solid.
There was little difference between registered and likely Democrats and
Republicans (there were too few likely independent voters for analysis).
Support is also strong regardless of ideology, with 50% of registered liberals,
71% of moderates and 66% of conservatives supporting the measure after
hearing the ballot language. Moderates have shown the greatest increase
in support, up 11 points from 60% one month ago. Liberals have shown the
greatest decline, dropping from 61% in April to 50% in the current survey,
with their opposition increasing from 27% to 39%. Liberals most likely
to vote on election day show an even lower level of support, with 44% saying
they will vote in favor of the measure and 45% saying they will oppose
it. There was little difference among moderates and conservatives between
those most likely to vote and all registered voters.
The English-only measure receives similarly
high levels of support among men and women registered and likely voters.
More educated voters show a greater level of opposition, albeit with a
still high level of support.
Latino support for Prop. 227 has actually
increased from one month ago. In the current poll, 62% of registered Latinos
said they would support the measure--up 12 points from 50% in April (64%
of registered whites and 65% of likely white voters support Prop. 227 in
the current survey). Latinos most likely to vote are only slightly less
supportive of the measure. The increase in support among Latinos goes against
the trend seen with Prop. 187 and Prop. 209 where Latino support declined
as election day drew near. There are a number of potential reasons for
the sustained Latino support. First, Prop. 227 has failed to generate the
level of attention that either Prop. 187 or Prop. 209 garnered. As a result
voters have less information and the measure has received less scrutiny.
Furthermore, improving education is universally appealing to voters, regardless
of race. Many Latinos may see this measure as making positive change in
their children's education and providing new and better alternatives.
A majority of voters in favor of Prop. 227
said that they support the measure because they believe you need to speak
English if you live in the United States. Fifty-seven percent of registered
voters and 55% of likely voters gave this response as one of the top two
reasons why they are voting in favor of the Unz initiative. Another 11%
of registered and 10% of likely voters said they would support the measure
because they prefer English immersion programs over bilingual education,
12% of registered voters and 15% of likely voters would vote yes because
they believe bilingual education hurts students who are not fluent in English
and 10% of registered voters and 15% of likely voters are voting for the
measure because they believe bilingual education is not effective.
Opponents of the measure cite a diverse
set of reasons as well, but no one reason overwhelms the others. Fourteen
percent of registered and likely voters oppose the measure because they
believe it costs too much. Another 13% of registered and 10% of likely
voters believe non-English speaking students will fall behind if this measure
passes, and 12% of registered and 13% of likely voters believe the measure
is discriminatory. Just 13% of registered voters and 10% of likely voters
said they were opposing Prop. 227 because they believe bilingual education