In addition to highly contested gubernatorial and senate contests, the voters of California will be deciding several of the most important ballot initiatives in the country. From PPIC (PDF):

Proposition 19
16. Proposition 19 is called the “Legalizes Marijuana Under California but Not Federal Law. Permits Local Governments to Regulate and Tax Commercial Production, Distribution, and Sale of Marijuana. Initiative Statute.” It allows people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use. Depending on federal, state, and local government actions, fiscal impact is potential increased tax and fee revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually and potential correctional savings of several tens of millions of dollars annually. If the election were held today, would you vote yes or no on Proposition 19?
yes 44
no 49
don’t know 7

The previous PPIC poll, from September, was the best poll to date for Prop 19, reporting it ahead 52-41, yet this most recent poll is one of the worst. Given how little change there has been in SurveyUSA polling, I find it hard to believe there really was a 16-point change in only a few weeks. Much of the decline in support found by the poll was among independents (from 65 percent  to 40 percent) and Hispanics (from 63 percent to 40 percent).

Proposition 23

Proposition 23 is called the “Suspends Implementation of Air Pollution Control Law AB 32 Requiring Major Sources of Emissions to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions That Cause Global Warming, Until Unemployment Drops to 5.5 Percent or Less for Full Year. Initiative Statute.” Fiscal impact is a likely modest net increase in overall economic activity in the state from suspension of greenhouse gases regulatory activity, resulting in a potentially significant net increase in state and local revenues. If the election were held today, would you vote yes or no on Proposition 23?
yes 37
no 48
don’t know 15

Proposition 23 is a multimillion dollar project funded almost exclusively by the oil industry to cripple California’s climate change legislation. A Prop 23 win in California could  have made politicians across the country terrified to address climate change. The measure, however, appears headed for a big defeat, and many of the state’s biggest politicians from both parties have come out against it. This will be a noteworthy victory for the environmentalist movement and strong rebuke of corporate attempts to buy democracy.

Proposition 25
Proposition 25 is called the “Changes Legislative Vote Requirement to Pass Budget and Budget-related Legislation From Two-Thirds to a Simple Majority. Retains Two-Thirds Vote Requirement for Taxes. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.” The legislature permanently forfeits daily salary and expenses until budget bill passes. Fiscal impact is, in some years, the contents of the state budget could be changed due to the lower legislative vote requirement in this measure. The extent of changes would depend on the legislature’s future actions. If the election were held today, would you vote yes or no on Proposition 25?
yes 49
no 34
don’t know 17

California is uniquely burdened with a highly dysfunctional state legislature that requires a two-thirds vote for tax increases and for the state’s budget. The result is near-continuous gridlock that hurts the state as a whole while dramatically empowering a small minority of Republicans in Sacramento. For those not from California, think of a situation similar to the current problem with the filibuster in the United State Senate. Prop 25 would at least remove the super-majority requirement for the budget.

Interestingly, despite the current set up, the partisan divide is not as big as I would expect. Currently, 58 percent of Democrats support Prop 25, and 39 percent of Republicans oppose it. I would think Democrats should support the measure in much greater numbers.

If this initiative does fail because it didn’t get near-unanimous support from the Democratic base, it will be a sign of how significantly the Democratic party of California has failed to explain the systemic source of many of the state’s problems.