Money and Democracy
Polling on Proposition 29 (tobacco taxes) gives us an interesting opportunity to see how well our democracy is functioning. Here are a bunch of numbers, but they do tell a story.
In late February, a poll by the Public Policy Institute showed 67% of likely voters supported Prop 29 and 30% opposed, with 3% undecided. The statistical margin of error is 3.4%, so what the poll indicates is that 64-70% favored Prop 29 and 27-33% opposed.
FOR 29 (FEB):
AGAINST 29 (FEB):
NOT SURE (FEB):
In mid-May, the same outfit repeated the same poll and found 53% supported Prop 29 and 42% were opposed. Undecided had risen to 5%.
FOR 29 (MAY):
AGAINST 29 (MAY):
NOT SURE (MAY):
On June 5, Prop 29 went down, with 51% of those voting opposing the proposition.
FOR 29 (JUNE):
AGAINST 29 (JUNE):
What had changed? Big Tobacco had poured approximately $47 million into a campaign to change people’s votes. Philip Morris (Altria) had put in $28 million. RJ Reynolds had put in $11 million. The supporters of Prop 29 reported about $12 million in funds.
MONEY FOR 29:
MONEY AGAINST 29:
About 17 million Californians are registered to vote, out of about 24 million persons eligible to vote. About 3.8 million people voted for or against Prop 29 — that’s about one out of five registered voters, or one out of seven of those eligible to vote.
ELIGIBLE TO VOTE:
In a state with a population of 37,000,000, Proposition 29 was defeated by a margin of 65,000 votes only three months after it led likely voters by a two to one landslide.
At the least, perhaps this is food for thought.