The Field Poll finally got around to polling Prop 1A and the results are about what I'd expected after six weeks of the Reason Foundation and the Howard Jarvis Association flooding the state's media with lies. We have a 47-42 lead with 11% undecided. The common rule of thumb in California politics is that a proposition under 50% before election day is in serious trouble, but I'm not convinced that conventional wisdom will hold true this year. There are a number of propositions - such as 4 and 8 - that are also very closely split, and voters are showing a better understanding of the issues, with a reduced inclination to vote no as a knee-jerk reaction.
Still, the poll shows that we have a LOT of work to do between now and Tuesday. Especially when you look at the crosstabs.
Prop 1A will be decided on election day. Those who have already voted oppose it 39-51. That is very close to the number of McCain voters opposing Prop 1A, 35-56. Here in California absentee voters have traditionally leaned Republican and conservative. Those groups oppose Prop 1A - Republicans by a margin of 35-58 and conservatives by a margin of 30-64. Voters over age 65, those most likely to cast an absentee ballot, oppose it 38-53.
However, if California gets an Obama surge on election day, the outcome may be much different (preferences are listed in order of yes, no, and undecided):
Age 18-34: 50-38-12
If young voters in particular hit the polls in large numbers than we can win this on election day.
The Field Poll also breaks the numbers down by region, showing us where we need to focus our energies over the next three days:
LA County: 55-37-8
Other SoCal: 32-54-14
Central Valley: 49-46-5
Bay Area: 59-28-13
Other NorCal: 46-46-8
Looking at this I would write off "Other SoCal" and pour as many resources as possible into the Central Valley. Fresno, Bakersfield, and Sacramento among others ought to be pro-HSR given how much they will benefit from the system. Over the next few days local political leaders and respected state leaders - I'm looking at you, Dianne Feinstein and Arnold Schwarzenegger - need to get into the Central Valley, get themselves on local news, and promote the hell out of Prop 1A.
There is a large number of undecided voters in the Bay Area as well. They can and should be brought over to our side, likely with a strong push from environmental and transit groups. I don't know if the Sierra Club has any money to put an ad up, or can do something to attract earned media, but that would be very helpful.
I know this site gets a lot of readers from around the pro-HSR community. So here is what I suggest our plans be for the next crucial three days:
- Link Obama to HSR. Run some ads or print up some flyers or just plain talk about how Obama and Biden are strong HSR advocates. The purpose here is to ensure that Democrats and Obama voters are going to cast their ballots for Prop 1A as well.
- The Central Valley is where we will win or lose. Get thee to Fresno (or Bakersfield or Sacramento) and explain to voters why this will be a godsend for the Valley. It will bring jobs and cheaper, more reliable transportation. Fresno will be under two hours from SF and LA. And it will reverse a long history of California neglecting the Valley's infrastructure needs.
- Emphasize the economic stimulus benefits of HSR. This message would play well in the Central Valley, the Bay Area, and perhaps even LA County and some other parts of SoCal. Prop 1A is a smart investment in jobs and growth. Leading economists like Paul Krugman are calling for deficit spending on infrastructure to rescue our economy. That message needs to get through.
- Continue targeting young voters. CALPIRG has done excellent work here over the last few weeks but they need to be joined by other groups - Young Democrats and other groups. At San Diego State an environmentally-minded group of fraternities and sororities has been promoting Prop 1A.
- Speak more about the environmental benefits in the Bay Area. Voters there are the most likely to be motivated by the considerable environmental and global warming-fighting benefits of HSR. If the Sierra Club has any last-minute resources to deploy, that would be very useful.
We can win this thing if we drive a big Obama turnout on Tuesday, ensure that people vote their entire ballot (or at least as far as the first proposition!) and that they vote YES on Prop 1A. The internals of the Field Poll look good for us, IF we can accomplish the turnout task. Let's get to it!