Support for Proposition 54 Declining as Awareness Increases, Poll Finds
Support for Proposition 54 continues to decline, with 40% favoring and 40% opposing the ballot initiative, according to a Field Poll survey of 505 likely voters conducted between Sept. 3 and Sept. 7, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Schevitz, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/11). 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, 9/10). The percentage of likely voters who were aware of the Oct. 7 ballot measure rose from 25% in July to 54% this month. However, support for the initiative dropped from 50% to 40% during the same period, and opposition increased from 29% to 40%, the survey found. Another 20% of respondents in the most recent survey were undecided. The survey found that among respondents who opposed the recall, 55% also opposed Proposition 54 and that among respondents favoring the recall, 52% opposed the ballot measure (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/11). When responses were classified by race, the poll found 58% of Latino voters and 50% of black voters opposed the initiative, while white voters were virtually split on the issue, with 40% favoring the measure and 38% opposing it (Smith, Sacramento Bee, 9/11). The survey's margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/11). The poll is available online.
Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo, who has tracked polls of over 200 initiatives, said the survey results are "quite ominous" for Proposition 54's chances of approval. "Once you start getting numbers that close this far out, four weeks before the election, usually the momentum continues," DiCamillo said (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/11). Justin Jones, spokesperson for the American Civil Rights Coalition, which supports the initiative, said the results reflect that opponents have been "using scare tactics, suggesting [Proposition 54] will somehow impair health care, when they know very well there is a full exemption for health care." Ward Connerly, the initiative's author and chief proponent, issued a statement saying he is "convinced that once voters read the initiative, Proposition 54 will pass" (Fisher, Orange County Register, 9/11).
- A 60-second radio advertisement supporting Proposition 54 yesterday began airing on KFI in Los Angeles and KFBK in Sacramento, the Los Angeles Times reports. The ad, paid for in part by ACRC, features Connerly, who in the ad criticizes gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (D) for wanting to spend more than $4 million to oppose Proposition 54. Ads opposing the initiative will appear next week (Trounson, Los Angeles Times, 9/11). Capital Public Radio on Monday reported on Bustamante's diversion of campaign contributions. The segment includes comments from Connerly (Montgomery, Capital Public Radio, 9/8). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- Leaders of the Urban League yesterday announced their opposition to Proposition 54, which they said would hinder state efforts to track information needed to obtain disease, the Los Angeles Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 9/12).
- The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to oppose Proposition 54, the San Francisco Examiner reports. County Manager John Maltbie said the measure would require the county to use a costly and ineffective "one-size-fits all" approach to health care (Zaske, San Francisco Examiner, 9/10).
- While Proposition 54 is "seen differently by different folks ... at its core, Prop. 54 is about shutting down information," George Skelton writes in a Los Angeles Times column. He adds that the initiative "deem[s] certain information to be unnecessary -- even bad for people -- and prevent[s] its collection." He concludes, "We need to know about our changing world, and we don't want to guess. We need facts. Striving toward a colorblind society does not mean closing our eyes to knowledge" (Skelton, Los Angeles Times, 9/11).
- Proposition 54 is "silly" considering the "everyday reality" of "how fundamentally public race is in our lives," Elizabeth Chin, an associate professor of anthropology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, says in a commentary on NPR's "Tavis Smiley Show." According to Chin, "we are all being observed and observing" race through the "social lens we keep eternally held to our eyes," and "as much as we might wish, that ongoing process of observation is not something legislation can effectively address" (Chin, "Tavis Smiley Show," NPR, 9/8). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.
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