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Poll shows California sports-betting measures tanking, climate tax struggling

Mercury News 10/4/2022 John Woolfolk
An iPad displays potential bets at the Golden 1 Center's Skyloft Predictive Gaming Lounge in Sacramento on March 19, 2019. (Rich Pedroncelli, AP Photo) © Provided by Mercury News An iPad displays potential bets at the Golden 1 Center's Skyloft Predictive Gaming Lounge in Sacramento on March 19, 2019. (Rich Pedroncelli, AP Photo)

A new poll shows both statewide ballot measures to legalize sports betting in California losing badly with likely voters and a proposed new tax on the rich to help subsidize electric cars struggling to reach majority support with ballots going out in less than a week and Election Day just six weeks away.

The Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll found just 27% support Proposition 27, which would allow online sports wagering, and only 31% backing Proposition 26, a competing measure which would allow in-person sports betting on tribal lands and at horse racing tracks.

“These results suggest that the sports wagering initiatives are foundering in the face of the opposition advertising campaigns,” said IGS co-director Eric Schickler in a statement. “The lack of support among key demographic groups makes passage of each an uphill climb, at best.”

If the polling trends on props 26 and 27 hold through Election Day it would constitute a costly bad bet for the gaming industry. Groups backed by online gambling companies and tribal casinos have raised $400 million for the pair of measures.

That blows away the previous record for spending on a California ballot initiative of more than $200 million in 2020 when when Uber, Lyft and DoorDash persuaded 58% of voters to back Proposition 22 and beat back a state law that would treat their gig-economy drivers as employees and raise their costs.

The poll also found that more California likely voters are inclined to support than oppose Proposition 30, a new tax on the rich that primarily would subsidize electric cars and the charging station infrastructure needed to power them. But the 49% in favor was short of the majority needed for the new tax to pass, with 37% opposed and 14% still undecided.

An August Public Policy Institute of California poll had been more encouraging for Proposition 30, chiefly backed by the ride-hailing company Lyft, finding 55% of likely voters in favor. The initiative would add an additional 1.75% of tax for single or joint incomes over $2 million a year, bringing the Golden State’s already nation-leading top tax bracket to 15.05%. Critics, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, say it will chiefly benefit Lyft.

Why are the sports gambling measures doing so poorly, even with the onslaught of advertising funded by the ample war chests built up to sell them to voters? The Berkeley IGS poll found opposition to the two sports wagering initiatives to be broad-based across major groups of likely voters and all regions of the state. The measures did not find anything near majority support among either Democrats or Republicans, men or women, young or old, sports fans or any racial or ethnic group.

The poll did find that those exposed to ads for the propositions were more likely to oppose them, and that while a majority of likely voters view the tribes that run casinos in the state favorably, just 14% have a favorable impression of sports gaming companies like Draft-Kings and FanDuel.

The August PPIC poll also had found Proposition 27 failing, with 34% of likely voters in support, but did not ask about Proposition 26.

The new Berkeley IGS poll found a solid majority of 57% of voters ready to defend the state’s ban on flavored tobacco by supporting Proposition 31.

And echoing other earlier surveys, the poll also showed Newsom, a Democrat, coasting to re-election with 53% support over his little known Republican challenger, state Sen. Brian Dahle, favored by 31%. That’s not much different than what the Berkeley IGS Poll found in early August when likely voters favored Newsom over Dahle 55% to 31%. Last month’s PPIC poll found likely voters favoring Newsom over Dahle 58% to 31%.

Newsom’s reelection has been expected since September when 62% of state voters rejected a recall, and with Democrats leading Republicans 47% to 24% in party registration, Dahle faces a monumental challenge to unseat the incumbent.

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But the latest Berkeley IGS poll found Newsom’s challenger continues to struggle to make himself known to the state’s voters. Though more voters have a favorable than unfavorable opinion of Dahle, the poll found 52% still have no opinion of him at all, not much of a gain from the 58% with no opinion in August. By contrast, only 5% have no opinion of Newsom.

The poll, funded by the Los Angeles Times, was administered online in English and Spanish Sept. 22-27 to 8,725 California registered voters, including 6,939 likely voters. The institute said the margin of error is about plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for findings based on the overall sample of likely voters.

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