Poll: $11.4 billion water bond may be in trouble

A new statewide poll suggests that the $11.4 billion water bond on the November ballot is in trouble.

More than half of those surveyed by Tulchin Research, 55 percent, described themselves as opposing the bond and, of those, about 32 percent said they would “definitely” vote against the proposal.

About 34 percent said they were supportive of the bond. Of those, 12 percent said they would “definitely” vote for it. About 11 percent were undecided.

The early survey by pollster Ben Tulchin was conducted Jan. 20-25 of 600 likely November voters. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points. Supporters of the bond were critical of the survey’s findings.

The bond, officially called the Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2010, reflects a compromise reached by the governor, Legislature, water agencies and environmental groups after months of negotiations. Backers say the bond will ensure ongoing urban and farming water supplies while also paying for restoration work in the sensitive Sacramento Delta.

Some environmental groups oppose the bond, while others say the price tag is too high and that the proposal would give too much money to large agribusiness enterprises.

“These are early poll results,” said Tina Andolina, legislative director with the Planning and Conservation League. “We’re still going to ramp up our campaign and get the word out there. The Yes campaign has a lot of money I know they’re willing to pump into this. Even with these early poll results, we still have our work cut out for us.”

Bond supporters questioned the poll’s results.

“The poll results quoted by opponents in their press release are based on one question from a longer poll, with no information about prior questions which could have tainted the results. Their results are very different from our own internal polling,” said Jim Earp, executive director of the California Alliance for Jobs and co-chair of the Alliance for Clean Water and Jobs, in a statement.

The numbers show that if the bond ultimately was approved, it would make California political history, Tulchin said.

“The challenge of backers of this bond is monumental,” said Tulchin. “No statewide bond measure has ever won when a majority of voters opposed it at the outset.”

The poll shows agreement across geographical and political lines. Voters in both Northern and Southern California opposed it by nearly equal measure — 54 percent and 56 percent, respectively. It is also opposed by 46 percent of Democrats, 52 percent of decline-to-state voters and 68 percent of Republicans.

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