By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Baldassare's polling is known for getting to the uncomfortable heart of things during election seasons, even if what he discovers is widespread ignorance among the very people who are about to vote. In 2005, the Public Policy Institute of California revealed stunning ignorance among California voters regarding how much money goes to schools. Most voters believed the largest chunks of the state budget went either to welfare or to prisons. The most money, by far, goes to public education — fully half of California's budget.
This election season, Baldassare has unearthed deep voter confusion over Prop. 93. When his Public Policy Institute wrote up its own nonpartisan summary of what Prop. 93 will actually do — not the highly spun version from Kaufman, Nunez and Jerry Brown — likely voters opposed it 66 percent to 29 percent. But seeing the massaged language from Nunez & Co., which was approved by the attorney general, voters backed Prop. 93 by 47 percent to 38 percent.
Even many independent and conservative California voters — who usually oppose the softening of term limits — are confused by the ballot language, with many believing Brown's claim that it's about "limiting" legislators' terms. "Republicans actually think that this is a reform that strengthens term limits," says Philip Blumel, president of U.S. Term Limits. "If you go into a Republican club and ask someone, 'Hey, what do you think about reducing the time in office for legislators from 14 to 12 years?,' they'll say, 'Hell, yeah!' They believe that that's what 93 does. It doesn't, and that's what we have to show people."
But because the measure lets both Democratic and Republican legislators overstay their current terms, "I am not under the illusion that Republican legislators aren't quietly hoping this will pass," says anti–Prop. 93 spokesman Spillane.
For now, many supposedly pro-term-limits GOP legislators are following the lead of Senator Dick Ackerman of Tustin, who in one breath says Prop. 93 "would just make it worse," and in the next says that if it passes, "Yeah, I might run again."
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