Poll: Taxes, parole revamp draw support

A street sign for voters. (Photo by Gustavo Frazao, via Shutterstock)

Likely voters are giving strong initial support to two state ballot propositions, one to extend a recent income tax hike on high income residents (Proposition 55). and another to offer new parole opportunities for non-violent offenders (Propositon 57). While voters are also backing a third initiative to increase cigarette taxes (Proposition 56), it leads by a narrower margin.

Proposition 55, the initiative to extend by twelve years the income tax hike on upper income residents enacted by voters in 2012, is currently backed two-to-one, 60% to 30%. By an even wider 60% to 21% margin Californians are embracing Proposition 57, Governor Jerry Brown’s criminal sentencing reform amendment that would offer new parole opportunities for non-violent criminal offenders. A third measure to increase by $2 per pack the state tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products receives the support of 53% of voters, although 40% are opposed and another 7% are undecided.

These findings come from the latest Field/IGS Poll, a statewide survey conducted jointly by The Field Poll and UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies. The poll completed in English and Spanish among Californians considered likely to vote in the November general election using YouGov’s online panel.

The full survey, including graphics and details of the methodology, are available here.

Voters favor Propositions 55, 56 and 57, but by varying margins
Likely voters in the poll were presented with the exact wording of each proposition’s official ballot title and summary that they will see when they go to the polls to vote and asked how they would vote if the election were being held today. The following table displays the ballot labels of these three propositions and voters’ reactions to each in the poll.

Similar voter segments supporting Prop. 55’s income tax extension and Prop. 56’s cigarette tax hike
The poll finds that the two tax-related measures – Prop. 55’s tax extension and Prop. 56’s cigarette tax hike – are backed by similar segments of voters. Most likely to be supporting each tax measure are Democrats, liberals,women, younger voters, Latinos, and parents. By contrast, majorities of Republican and conservative voters oppose both initiatives.

Governor Brown’s criminal sentencing reform constitutional amendment strongly backed by the state’s Democrats and liberals
Governor Brown’s plan to revamp the state’s prison parole rules to offer new parole opportunities to non-violent offenders is overwhelmingly supported by Democrats and voters identifying themselves as liberal in politics. Within each voting bloc greater than three in four are intending to vote Yes, while fewer than one in ten are currently on the No side. Voters registered as no party preference or who consider themselves moderate in politics are also supporting the plan by wide margins. By contrast, pluralities of the state’s Republican and conservative voters are currently on the No side.

Ed’s Note: The survey of California voters was conducted jointly by The Field Poll and the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. The survey was completed online by YouGov September 7-13, 2016 in English and Spanish. Voter preferences on Proposition 55 are based on a random sample of 967 likely voters statewide; those on Proposition 56 are based on a random sample of 943 likely voters, while the findings on Proposition 57 are based on a random subsample of 484 likely voters statewide. 

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