Monday, November 12, 2012

Prop 30 Election Post Mortem

We know that Prop 30 - the governor's tax initiative - passed with about 54% of the vote.  But the polls always showed it in a marginal position and losing support towards the end.  One possible explanation is that Prop 30 always had a plurality of "yes" votes and that undecided voters ended up voting yes in sufficient numbers to enact it.

However, the political number crunchers are now raising questions about whether the pollsters' estimates of "likely voters" were biased towards older folks who were less positive than younger voters about Prop 30. From Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee columnist:

...The Field Poll, California's most venerable survey, had calculated in its last pre- election poll that Tuesday's voters would be 70-plus percent white and mostly 50-plus years old – just about what it's been in recent elections. But an exit poll conducted for a consortium of news organizations found them to be just 54 percent white and just 36 percent 50 years or older. A late-blooming surge of voter registration that was largely young and Democratic hinted at the Election Day shift. It happened so late and so suddenly, thanks to a new Internet registration system, that Field and other pollsters could not adjust their survey samples...

Full story at

A cautionary note is that while the Field Poll is on the web, the study Walters refers to is not.  It would be nice to have more detail.  For example, since there would have been trigger cuts had Prop 30 not passed - including at UC - tuition would have risen.  So college students had a good reason to turn out.  But how many did?

Update: There is somewhat more detail on the study at:


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