Early Polling Shows Voters Oppose Water Bond

There’s still 9 months until the November election, but the early polling on the $11 billion water bond doesn’t look good at all for those who support its passage. Tulchin Research did a poll for a coalition of groups against the bond that found strong and widespread opposition to its passage:

Just one-third of likely voters (34%) support the water bond currently, while more than a majority of likely voters (55%) oppose it. That’s a very weak start for a bond measure, and some of the existing support is likely to drop off as a campaign against the bond ramps up later this year, in the view of opponents of the bond, who released the survey results today….

“The challenge for backers of this bond is monumental,” said Tulchin. “No statewide bond measure has ever won when a majority of voters opposed it at the outset.”

Support was weak in the poll, even among those voting yes, with just 12% saying they would “definitely” vote yes and 4% saying they merely “leaned” in favor. In contrast, there was greater intensity on the “no” side, with a third of all voters polled (32%) saying they would “definitely” vote no.

The poll shows that opposition is widespread:

Yes No
Democrats: 43 46
Republicans: 20 68
DTS: 38 52
NorCal: 35 54
SoCal: 33 56

As a result of numbers like this, some are floating the idea of postponing the bond vote, as was done twice with the high speed rail bond that was eventually approved in 2008, as Dan Walters reports:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says that persuading voters to approve an $11.2 billion water bond issue this year will be “very challenging” but he hopes that they “know the difference between spending money and investing in the future.”…

Bond advocates are worried that the state’s continuing recession, its chronic budget crisis and the unpopularity of Schwarzenegger and legislators might make passage difficult, and there’s been some quiet discussion of postponing it until conditions improve. Schwarzenegger and legislators decreed that kind of postponement for a long-pending bond issue for high-speed rail service.

I really don’t see how this thing is going to pass this year. The combination of opposition from many environmental groups, public concern about deficit spending, and the heavy winter rains that might ease the drought could be enough to sink the package.