Tobacco Center Faculty Blog

June 11, 2012

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

At 4:43 am June 7, the morning after the election, the Secretary of State showed Philip Morris and Reynolds leading on Prop 29, with 50.7% no vs. 49.2% yes on Prop 29, a spread of only 63,176 votes, with about 1 million uncounted mail-in votes.

As of 5:55 pm on June 11, the Secretary of State showed that, with about half the votes counted, the cigarette companies' lead had narrowed to 37,096 votes, with 50.4% no to 49.6% yes.

I did a county-by-county analysis, using the election day returns to predict post-election returns (using linear regression), then estimated the number of yes votes remaining based on the number of uncounted votes by county.  The result shows a very narrow loss of 29, but the difference is well below the "margin of error" of the statistical estimates.

It's still too close to call.

June 8, 2012

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

I have been giving the outcome of the Prop 29 election a lot of thought and talking to others involved in and watching the campaign. 

There is a broad consensus that the single largest boost that Philip Morris and Reynolds American got for their campaign against Prop 29 was the fact that the LA Times urged a "no" vote

The cigarette companies heavily promoted the Times' position in their $47 million ad blitz, especially in Southern California and it worked.  Everyone expected Prop 29 to do worse in LA than Northern California because Southern California is more conservative than Northern California, but there was an unprecedented difference:  The election day returns showed Prop 29 winning by 73%-27% in San Francisco County but narrowly losing in LA.  The only thing that can explain such a huge split was the LA Times endorsement of the tobacco industry's position. 

While the Times tried to distance itself from Big Tobacco, they parroted its argument:

June 6, 2012

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Right now (as of 4:43 am June 7), the Secretary of State shows the Philip Morris and Reynolds leading on Prop 29, with 50.7% no vs. 49.2% yes on Prop 29.  The spread is very small, only 63,176 votes out of a total of 3.85 million votes counted so far.

There are a large number of uncounted absentee ballots -- I have seen estimates ranging up to 1 million -- which means that the Secretary of State has declared the race a "close contest," meaning that the result will not be certified until all the ballots are counted.

The ultimate outcome will depend entirely on where the uncounted ballots are, since there were huge differences in how the vote went in different counties.  For example, 64.3% voted "yes" in Santa Clara County (where reporters have told me there are a large number of uncounted ballots) whereas only 33.6% voted "yes" in Kern County. 

There is also the question of whether or not the absentee voters voted the same way as the precinct voters.  On one hand, absentee voters tend to be more conservative than precinct voters.  On the other hand absentee voters may have voted earlier than precinct voters, in which case they would not have been as influenced by Philip Morris and Reynolds' deceptive ad campaign.

At this point, it is impossible to make a reliable prediction of the final outcome. 

June 2, 2012

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Check it out here.

This is my favorite part of their story:

'If you have any doubt that these type of relationships are part of a larger, deliberate public strategy, look no further than a 1998 proposal from a Sacramento political consulting group to The Tobacco Institute during the debate over another cigarette tax referendum.

"Dated February 13, 1998, on page 1, the proposal states, 'The tobacco industry is currently losing the public relations war with the general public.' It continues, 'Understanding the above, the only way to defeat any of the hostile tax increase measures currently in circulation for the November ballot in California, is to build a coalition of groups more favorable to the public without the fingerprints of tobacco on it.'”  Click here to read the proposal.

This story also shows how journalists can use the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library to inform current issues.

 

June 1, 2012

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

The respected nonpartisan Field Poll shows Proposition 29 winning 50% to 42%. 

The poll was conducted May 21-29; I believe the Yes advertising was on the air statewide for about the last half of this time.  Philip Morris and Reynolds American's saturation advertising had been on the air for several weeks by then.  The fact that Prop 29 is winning despite the cigarette companies' ad blitz is encouraging, but there is no question that the No ad campaign has (not surprisingly) eroded Prop 29's original lead. Experience with tobacco tax initiatives around the country suggests that the fact that Prop 29 started with a 67 percent "yes" vote before the "no" ad blitz started that this lead will be big enough for Prop 29 to withstand the cigarette companies' onslaught and still pass.

A poll released a few days ago from the LA Times and USC also showed Prop 29 winning.

To put this poll in historical context in California, the Field Poll noted:

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