Support for Proposition 54 Among Minority Groups Higher Than Anticipated, Poll Finds
Support for Proposition 54 among minority groups is higher than previously anticipated, according to poll results released Thursday from the 2003 Multilingual Survey of California Voters, the Sacramento Bee reports (Magagnini, Sacramento Bee, 9/26). Proposition 54, also known as the Racial Privacy Initiative, would prevent California government agencies and schools from collecting racial and ethnic data but would allow exemptions in instances involving some medical research data, convicted criminals or crime suspects and occasions in which the federal government requires racial data (California Healthline, 9/25). The survey was conducted between Sept. 6 and Sept. 16 by the public opinion firm Bendixen & Associates through a partnership among the Institute for Justice and Journalism and the Pew Hispanic Center, which are based at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication; New California Media and the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute. Interviewers polled 600 Hispanics, 504 blacks, 254 non-Hispanic whites and 250 Asian Americans in English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese or Korean. According to the survey, 46% of Hispanics, 42% of Asians, 41% of blacks and 31% of whites support the initiative. Respondents were asked their opinion before and after they heard three arguments for and against Proposition 54; results were generally similar (USC Annenberg School for Communication release, 9/25). The survey also showed that 47% of Asians, 45% of Hispanics, 32% of blacks and 30% of whites had not heard of the initiative. Of respondents who were familiar with the ballot measure, 44% of whites, 26% of blacks, 21% of Hispanics and 18% of Asians remained undecided (Sacramento Bee, 9/26).
Pollster Sergio Bendixen said the results run "counter to what experts might have predicted," adding that "if Proposition 54 is going to be defeated, its opponents need to find a way to turn these ethnic minorities around" (Garcia, San Jose Mercury News, 9/26). He added, "Mathematically it is impossible for Proposition 54 to be defeated unless minorities oppose it." The ballot measure's author, Ward Connerly, said, "Candidly, I'm puzzled with it," explaining that ethnic leaders have been "united" in their opposition to the initiative and that opponents have recently run several advertisements. KCRW's "Which Way, L.A.?" Friday will discuss the survey on support for Proposition 54 with Pew Hispanic Center Director Roberto Suro (Olney, "Which Way, L.A.?," KCRW, 9/26). The full segment will be available online in RealPlayer after the broadcast.
Summaries of additional Proposition 54 coverage are provided below.
- Opponents of Proposition 54 on Friday are launching a $1.8 million statewide television advertising campaign featuring former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. The 30-second commercial focuses on the implications of the initiative on public health, with Koop saying that the initiative would "block information that can help save lives" and "end prevention efforts directed to those most at risk from cancer, diabetes and other diseases" (Sacramento Bee, 9/26).
- Sacramento Superior Court Judge Loren McMaster on Wednesday asked gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (D) to prove that he is contractually obligated to pay for television advertisements purchased with controversial campaign donations (Witt, San Jose Mercury News, 9/25). The judge on Monday ordered Bustamante to return to donors funds originally obtained through an old campaign account -- most of which were transferred to the Cruz Bustamante Committee Against Proposition 54 (California Healthline, 9/23). However, on Wednesday, he changed the wording of the ruling to read that the campaign must return any funds it still "controlled" instead of "possessed." Bustamante's campaign says that $2.2 million in commercials had already run by the time of the ruling and that the campaign sent another $2 million to stations late last week to pay for this week's commercials. However, David Bienstock, a media buyer working for Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign filed an affidavit with the court Wednesday that states Bustamante purchased $1.8 million in advertisements that ran last week, paid $843,000 for ads this week and could have legally canceled the ads this week. McMaster has requested copies of the contracts; Bustamante's campaign said it would comply (San Jose Mercury News, 9/25).
- Meanwhile, an employee of an NBC affiliate in Northern California, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Wednesday that representatives of Bustamante's campaign had called to cancel the ads, the Los Angeles Times reports. While four weeks' notice is usually required for cancellations, he said affiliates would likely reach a quick compromise with Bustamante since he is a political candidate. Bustamante's campaign strategist denied that any such inquiry had been made (Morain/Rubin, Los Angeles Times, 9/25).
- Administrators at the University of California-Berkeley have advised students against spending any amount of the $35,000 the university's Graduate Assembly appropriated for an effort to defeat Proposition 54, alleging that it would use student fees to support partisan political activities, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The group has incurred debt for fliers and postcards, but no money has been paid out, according to Cintya Molina, the assembly's vice president for external affairs. While using student fees for political purposes is prohibited, expenditures for "informational activities" are permissible, according to Michael Smith, the school's vice chancellor for legal affairs. If the students cannot use the funds, they will pay for the bills themselves, according to Molina (Bartindale, San Jose Mercury News, 9/26).
- The Oakland Tribune on Wednesday looked at how the reinstatement of the Oct. 7 recall vote could affect Proposition 54 (Maitre, Oakland Tribune, 9/24).
- KPBS' "KPBS News" Wednesday reported on a San Diego City Council committee's decision not to support Proposition 54. According to KPBS, San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy will ask the full council to discuss the Racial Privacy Initiative possibly as early as Monday. The segment includes comments from Environmental Health Coalition Director Diane Tekvorian (Anderson, "KPBS News," KPBS, 9/24). The full transcript of the segment is available online. In addition, the full segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KQED's "This Week in Northern California" on Friday will include a live debate on Proposition 54 with Connerly and Equal Justice Society Executive Director Eva Paterson, who opposes the initiative. Questions and comments may be submitted online prior to the broadcast. The program will also include comments from San Jose Mercury News reporters Katherine Corcoran and Manuel Ramos. The program airs at 8:30 p.m. PT (Davis, "This Week in Northern California," KQED, 9/26). The full segment will be available online in RealPlayer after the broadcast.
Voters should reject Proposition 54 because it "threatens good public policy in a variety of areas," including medical research, education and law enforcement, an editorial in the Fresno Bee states (Fresno Bee, 9/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.