In a Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll embargoed until just after midnight, state Controller Steve Westly has overtaken Treasurer Phil Angelides, the longtime frontrunner, in the Democratic primary for Governor of California. Westly has come from behind to lead by a single point, 23 percent to 22 percent. The poll was conducted over a week ago, from March 15 to March 22, and does not reflect the impact of more recent TV advertising.
Proposition 82, the Preschool For All initiative sponsored by movie director Rob Reiner — who yesterday resigned under fire as chairman of the California Children and Families Commission — is in very perilous territory. Upon the poll’s completion, it led by only 52 percent to 41 percent. The general rule of thumb for a complex initiative with major fiscal implications, such as Prop 82, is that it should have 60 percent or more support at this stage to have a good chance of passing. Doubt usually sets in in the late stage of such an initiative campaign, bringing its support level down. In January, the PPIC poll had Prop 82 winning, 66 percent to 31 percent.
The poll contains some good news for embattled Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. His job approval rating has gone up some. Better still, his idea for a massive infrastructure bond package is popular. And voters, who of course are quite uninformed about what actually happened, mainly blame the Legislature for its failure to make California’s June ballot, seeing all the Arnold activity, latebreaking though it was, as a plus for him. While most voters say they disagree with Arnold on the issues, some 70 percent say they like him personally. And the governor leads both Westly and Angelides in general election matchups, though Westly does better than Angelides. In both trial heats, there are fully 30 percent undecided, which indicates that voters were not pushed with partisan identifications to make a choice, redounding to the benefit of Scharzenegger in mostly Democratic California. Arnold led Phil, 41 percent to 29 percent, and Steve, 39 percent to 31 percent. This result is out of synch with other polling, though Schwarzenegger may well lead at the moment.