June 1, 2012

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Field Poll shows Prop 29 still ahead; every vote will count

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:

"In past years the tobacco industry has been successful in defeating attempts at raising tobacco taxes either by legislative action or by voters. For example, in 2006 voters rejected a two dollar and sixty cent per pack cigarette tax increase after it held early two-to-one leads in the polls. The final pre-election Field Poll completed one week before that election showed that the proportion of voters intending to vote No had pulled even to the proportion in favor, and it was defeated on Election Day by a 52% to 48% margin.

"The last time California voters approved a tobacco tax increase was in 1998 and it did so narrowly, 51% to 49%. That money funded smoking prevention and childhood development programs. A Field Poll conducted one week in advance of that election had the measure clinging to a nine-point lead after it had been leading by a larger twenty-two point margin in earlier polls."

The current Field Poll shows Prop 29 ahead by 8 points.

The Field Poll shows Prop 29 winning among early voters by 51% to 41%, which should be encouraging to the "yes" side since many of these people likely voted before the "yes" ads started.  This is likely to be a low turnout election.  Prop 29 is also leading among election day voters by 48% to 43%, pointing to the importance for people who support Prop 29 to have an aggressive get-out-the-vote effort. 

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