Support for Proposition 72 Relatively Unchanged; Many Voters Undecided, Unaware of Issue, Field Poll Finds
Voter opinion of Proposition 72, a referendum on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot to preserve a state law (SB 2) requiring some employers to provide health insurance for employees, has remained "largely unchanged" since June, with 48% of voters in favor of the measure, according to the results of a Field Poll released Wednesday, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 8/12). SB 2, which is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2006, will require employers with 200 or more employees to provide health insurance to workers and their dependents by 2006 or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage. By 2007, employers with 50 to 199 employees will have to provide health insurance to workers only. Companies with fewer than 20 workers will not have to comply with the law, and the law also will exempt employers with 20 to 49 workers unless the state provides them with tax credits to offset the cost of health coverage (California Healthline, 8/10).
Field Poll researchers interviewed 534 state residents by telephone between July 31 and Aug. 8 and found that 48% of likely voters favor Proposition 72, 31% oppose the referendum and 21% are undecided. The results are similar to a Field Poll conducted in May that found 50% of likely voters favored the measure, 28% opposed it and 22% were undecided.
The percentage of likely voters who said they had heard of the provision increased in the recent poll to 30% from 23% in May. The recent poll's margin of error is 4.4 percentage points, more than most differences recorded between the two polls (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 8/12).
Other findings of the poll are summarized below.
- Democrats support the measure 60% to 21%.
- Republicans responded that they would likely reject the measure 45% to 34%.
- Fifty-one percent of women voters said they were in favor of the measure, compared with 24% who oppose it.
- Non-Latino, white voters favored the measure 42% to 33% (Goldeen, Stockton Record, 8/12).
- Latinos favored the measure 57% to 27% (Field Poll, 8/12).
- Those without health insurance favored the measure by a 2-to-1 ratio.
- Insured voters who said they were "very concerned" about the possibility of losing coverage supported the measure by a 3-to-1 ratio, the Record reports (Stockton Record, 8/12).
Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said, "Voters aren't fully educated about the initiative. They are going to get a lot more information" (Gledhill, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/12). DiCamillo added, "There really hasn't been a significant change in preferences, nor should you expect much because there has not been a lot of campaigning that has reached the public airwaves."
According to the Bee, opponents and supporters of the measure "are planning to campaign heavily." As of June, medical associations and unions that support the measure reported having about $500,000 for their campaign, while business associations opposed to the measure reported about $1.1 million.
Jot Condie of the California Restaurant Association and co-chair of the campaign against the measure, said, "Once [voters] understand that they are going to have medical care with the bedside manner of the DMV, we're certain voters will outright reject Proposition 72."
Earl Lui, senior attorney at Consumers Union, which supports the measure, said, "I think when people learn the facts about Proposition 72 they do overwhelmingly support it. A lot of people think it's (already) the law that employers are supposed to offer health care to people" (Sacramento Bee, 8/12).
The survey is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to access the survey.
Additional information on SB 2 is available online.