Another new poll confirms the recent downward slide for Gov. Jerry Brown's tax increase initiative, but also suggests there's a very real chance that Brown and his allies will eke out a victory on Election Day.
The nonpartisan Field Poll released Thursday pegs overall support for Proposition 30 among likely voters at 48 percent, with 38 percent opposed and 14 percent undecided.
That's a three point drop from Field's September survey, and a mirror of the tepid Prop 30 support measured last week in another statewide poll.
(A recent poll from SurveyUSA actually shows Prop 30 slightly ahead.)
But deeper in the new Field Poll is data pointing to a silver lining for backers of the governor's temporary income/sales tax hike for schools and the state budget.
The Field survey was conducted over a 13 day period between October 17 and October 30. And in the final five days, the pollsters found Prop 30 support rising to 50 percent. Sources say a similar upward swing has been seen in private polling, too.
Also working in Brown's favor: 55 percent of those who are either new or occasional voters support his tax hike, compared to just 48 percent of frequent voters.
That might be an early indicator of what we'll see from the large number of new voters who registered in the final days. In particular, it now appears that some 1 million new California voters came from the state's new online voter registration system -- voters who, given they took the time to log on and register, would seem eager to cast a ballot.
Those voters apparently skew younger, and that's also fertile ground for the governor's tax; it's supported by 61 percent of those ages 18-29 in the Field Poll, and 56 percent of those between 30 and 39 years old.
Given all that, it may be a wise move that the septuagenarian Brown has made in peddling his initiative on college campuses over the last two weeks.
Prop 30 also seems to be holding its own among those who vote by mail. Once the bastion of conservatives, absentee voters are growing in number and diversity. Field finds 50 percent of absentee voters support the tax hike, and 54 percent of those who have already voted say they marked their ballot in support of Prop 30.
It's those who will show up at a polling place next Tuesday with which the governor is struggling; just 46 percent of those surveyed say that they support his initiative.
Where else is Brown's Prop 30 having troubles? Among men, those 40 and older, and among white voters.
And then there's Los Angeles County, home to the motherlode of California votes. Only 49 percent of Angelenos in the Field Poll back Brown's measure; might that mean a few extra SoCal visits in these last few days of his statewide barnstorming?
Certainly none of the numbers in this, or any, recent poll suggest the governor's tax can't win (unlike the K-12 tax Proposition 38, which limps in at just 34 percent support in this new poll). But it's clear that this is going to be a nail biter either way. And with a lot of absentee ballots yet to be turned in, that could mean we won't know the outcome on Prop 30 -- and its impact on state finances -- for days...or longer.