By Michael Gardner
The San Diego Union-Tribune
SACRAMENTO — A new Field Poll shows that California voters are not embracing a November ballot measure that would legalize and tax marijuana, even though they supported limited use for medicinal purposes in 1996.
The survey also found that voters are committed to California’s campaign against global warming, opposing an initiative that would suspend many restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions until the economy rebounds.
And Californians appear willing to spend $11 billion in tax dollars for new dams and environmental projects, though Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders are so pessimistic about its chances that they are seeking to yank the bond measure off the ballot.
On a fourth measure, voters strongly support a simple-majority vote to pass a state budget as long as tax increases must still be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.
Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo said voter awareness of the four measures varied wildly. (There could be six or more other propositions on the ballot.) The marijuana initiative has drawn the most attention, with 77 percent of voters aware of it. In contrast, only one in four of those surveyed was aware of the water bond measure.
Marijuana: Proposition 19 would legalize marijuana for personal use by those 21 and older, and allow for the state to impose taxes. The initiative is losing, 48 percent to 44 percent.
Key findings: Republicans oppose 2-1; Democrats support by 15 points. Nonpartisans are evenly split. White non-Hispanics support by 5 percent; minority groups oppose by double digits.
Supporters say it is silly to ban marijuana when alcohol is allowed and the state needs the tax revenue. Opponents are concerned about public safety and the message it would send to youngsters.
Global warming: Proposition 23 would suspend the state’s landmark law to control greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming until the unemployment rate falls below 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters — something that has happened only twice in the past 11 years.
The measure is trailing, 48 percent to 36 percent.
Key findings: One in three GOP voters opposes; 57 percent of Democrats say they will vote no. Nonpartisans line up against it, 53 percent to 29 percent. Of those who were aware of the measure before being surveyed, opinions were evenly divided, with 45 percent opposed and 44 percent in favor of delay. But after being read a summary, those who had no previous knowledge lined up solidly in the no column, 50 percent to 31 percent.
Supporters say the state cannot afford to risk higher unemployment that may be brought on by passage if business suffer from higher costs to reduce greenhouse gasses.
Opponents argue that the drive for clean energy will create jobs and cut the state’s addiction to polluting and costly fossil fuels.
Budget: Proposition 25 would allow for a simple majority vote to pass a state budget, but retain the two-thirds requirement for tax increases. The measure would also suspend lawmakers’ pay for as long as there is no budget past the deadline. The poll says voters are in support, 65 percent to 20 percent.
Key findings: Both Democrats and Republicans support it, 73 percent and 58 percent, respectively. There is little difference between those who were aware or unaware of the proposition.
Supporters say the majority should rule and be responsible for the contents of the budget, which is perennially late as Capitol negotiations drag on. Opponents claim it allows the majority to run roughshod over those who have different priorities for spending tax dollars.
Water bond: Proposition 18 would authorize the state to sell $11.1 billion in bonds to pay for various projects, including $3 billion for new reservoirs. The measure leads, 42 percent to 32 percent.
Key findings: Among the one in four who heard of it, 57 percent approve. After being read the ballot summary, unaware voters were more tentative, with 37 percent in favor and 31 percent opposed.
Supporters say growth, drought and environmental demands require such an investment. Opponents argue that it’s too costly and that conservation is preferred to building dams.
The nonpartisan Field Poll surveyed 1,005 likely voters by telephone between June 22 and Monday. The overall survey has a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points. Among subgroups, the error margin is 5.5 percentage points.
See Related: FIELD POLL ARCHIVE
SENTINEL FOUNDER PAT MURPHY