By Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field
The latest Field Poll finds that for the first time supporters outnumber opponents of Proposition 34, the statewide ballot initiative to repeal the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without parole. Currently 45% of this state’s likely voters are voting Yes while 38% are voting No. But, a relatively large 17% remain undecided.
One of the factors propelling the increase in support of the initiative relates to the growing perception that the death penalty is more expensive to administer than housing a person in prison for life. When asked about this in the current survey, 53% of likely voters now say the death penalty is more expensive than life in prison, while 31% think it is more expensive to house a convicted felon for life. This represents a significant change in voter opinion compared to past Field Poll measures. A September 2011 Field Poll found slightly more believing life in prison was more expensive than the death penalty (43% to 41%), while in 1989 greater than a two to one majority felt this way (54% to 26%).
The poll also finds more voters moving to the No side on Proposition 32, the initiative to prohibit payroll deductions for campaign contributions. At present 50% of likely voters are intending to vote No on Prop. 32, while 34% are in favor. This sixteen-point plurality against the measure is more than twice the six point deficit observed in mid-September.
These results come from the final pre-election Field Poll conducted by telephone among likely voters in California in six languages and dialects. A total of 1,566 likely voters were surveyed. Interviewing was administered in two consecutive waves, with 815 interviews conducted October 17-24 and 751 completed October 25-30.