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FIELD POLL - Big early leads for Prop 86 Cigarette Taxes, Prop 87 Alternative Energy, Prop 83 Sex Offenders

By Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field

August 2, 2006

Voters in this year's general election will face a long list of statewide ballot propositions, many of which are expected to generate considerable interest and debate.

Among them are five initiatives that early press accounts have indicated will be getting the greatest attention and campaign advertising efforts. In its most recent survey, The Field Poll tested the early preferences of likely voters toward these initiatives, and following are the results:

- Proposition 86, the cigarette tax initiative, starts with an early two to one lead, 63% to 32%.

- Proposition 87, the alternative energy and oil tax initiative, is currently favored by a five to three margin (52% to 31%).

- There is even stronger support (76% Yes and 11% No) for Proposition 83, the so-called Jessica's Law, sex offender punishment initiative.

- A plurality of voters (46%) is also backing Proposition 90, the eminent domain laws initiative, while 31% are opposed.

- Voter sentiment about Proposition 85, the parental notification of teen abortion initiative, is about evenly divided, with 44% on the Yes side and 45% on the No side.

Prop. 86, the cigarette tax initiative, supported two to one

Prior to posing a summary description of Prop. 86, the poll asked voters whether they had seen or heard anything about the initiative. About one in four likely voters (26%) reported some prior awareness.

All voters, regardless of any prior awareness of Prop. 86, were then read the official ballot summary describing the initiative and asked how they would vote if the election were being held today. By a two to one majority (63% to 32%), likely voters in the survey are lining up on the Yes side.

Democrats and liberals are strongly supporting the initiative, while Republicans, non-partisans and conservatives are in favor, but by somewhat smaller margins.

While males support Prop. 86 about four to three (56% to 41%), women are backing the initiative by a greater than three to one margin (71% to 22%). Similarly, while white non-Hispanics favor Prop. 86 by about a five to three margin, larger proportions of ethnic voters, and especially Latinos, are on the Yes side.

Current tobacco smokers, who represent 12% of the likely voters in this survey, oppose the measure 72% to 23%. On the other hand, former smokers, who account for another 32% of the likely electorate, are currently favoring it by a 53% to 39% margin. Voters who have never smoked are the most supportive of the initiative and are endorsing it four to one (76% to 19%).

Proposition 85, the parental notification of teen abortion initiative, divides the voting public

A majority of voters (52%) say they are familiar with Prop. 85, the parental notification of teen abortion initiative. The relatively high awareness of this initiative most likely relates to the fact that voters were previously asked to decide on this issue just last year in the November special election.

After being read its official ballot description, 45% of voters say they oppose it, while 44% are supporting it. This distribution mirrors the very close outcome of last year's election, when a similar initiative, Prop. 73, was narrowly defeated by a 53% to 47% margin at the polls.

Democratic voters are strongly opposing Prop. 85, 61% to 28%. Non-partisans also oppose the measure, but by a narrower 50% to 38% margin. Republicans, on the other hand, are almost three to one in favor (67% to 24%).

There is a big gender divide on this issue. Men favor Prop. 85 53% to 40%, while women are opposed 51% to 36%.

Substantial majorities of Protestants and Catholics are lining up on the Yes side on Prop. 85. However, those affiliated with other religions or who have no religious preference are strongly opposed.

Prop. 87, the alternative energy/oil tax initiative, is favored five to three

Just 19% of voters say they have seen or heard anything about Prop. 87, the alternative energy and oil tax initiative.

When asked how they would vote on Prop. 87 after being read its official ballot summary, a majority (52%) favors the measure, while 31% are opposed.

Democrats and liberals are very much in favor, supporting it by 66% to 18% and 74% to 9% margins, respectively. Non-partisans and middle-of-the-road voters also back the initiative, but by somewhat smaller margins. However, Republicans are opposed (51% to 34%), as are conservatives (47% to 40%).

Proposition 83, the sex offender punishment initiative, is overwhelmingly supported

Three in ten likely voters (30%) say they have seen or heard about Prop. 83, the so-called Jessica's Law initiative to increase criminal penalties for those convicted of sex offenses.

After Prop. 83's official ballot description was read, three out of four voters (76%) say they are inclined to vote Yes, while just 11% are opposed. Large majorities of voters across each partisan subgroup favor the initiative.

Proposition 90, the eminent domain law initiative, leads although many are undecided

Another initiative likely to generate controversy and debate relates to laws about government acquisition of private property. Currently, only about one in four voters (28%) is aware of the initiative.

When asked where they presently stand on Prop. 90 after being read its official summary, 46% of likely voters are on the Yes side and 31% are opposed. One in four voters (23%) are undecided.

Democrats and non-partisans favor Prop. 90 by nearly identical ten-point pluralities. There is even greater support among Republicans, who favor it 51% to 28%.

While pluralities of conservatives and moderates currently support Prop. 90, liberals are narrowly opposed (39% to 36%).

The findings in this report are based on a random sample survey of 762 likely voters in California's November general election. Interviewing was conducted by telephone in English and Spanish between the period July 10-23, 2006.




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