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Reason-Rupe: 59 Percent of Public Sector Workers Oppose California’s Prop 32; 50 Percent of Private Sector Workers Support

If California voters pass Proposition 32, unions, corporations, and government contractors would be prohibited from donating to political candidates and from deducting money from workers’ paychecks to use for political purposes. For instance, as Reason’s Lisa Snell explains in a recent op-ed, unions deduct dues from workers’ paychecks and then use the funds for political purposes without workers’ consent.

Both proponents and opponents view Proposition 32 as a vehicle for curbing the power of public sector unions in the state. Proponents point out that public sector unions negotiate with the very same elected officials they can help elect, causing ostensible conflict of interest problems. In fact, the Reason-Rupe poll of 696 Californians found a majority (53 percent) agrees that public sector unions have too much power when negotiating pay and benefits with elected officials.

Opponents point out that although Prop 32 applies to unions and corporations, prohibiting payroll deduction for political purposes disproportionally affects unions, since unions overwhelmingly raise their political money through payroll deductions.

One might expect the issue of free speech to have emerged as it relates to Prop 32's central campaign finance component. Yet, on Prop 32's Ballotpedia page, one cannot find a single mention of the word "speech." Moreover, groups typically in favor of fewer campaign finance restrictions have not seemed to make the connection in this case. Likewise, groups traditionally in favor of tight regulation of campaign finance have not appeared to extend that logic to Prop 32.

Based on results from the California Reason-Rupe poll, groups likely opposed to Prop. 32 include Democrats, African-Americans, Latinos, retirees, lower income households, those with less education, and indeed public sector workers.

However, running a statistical test finds education and race are not predictive of vote choice when taking into account other demographic factors including income, education, and being a public sector worker. Instead, groups which are statistically significant predictors of voting No on Proposition 32 include Democrats, retirees, households making less than $30,000 a year, and public sector workers. The statistical test indicates that membership in each of these groups exerts an independent effect on voting against Proposition 32. 

Note: Logistic statistical tests were run including party identification, gender, age, employment, education, income, public/private sector, union membership, and race; statistical significance at the .05 level. 

Groups more likely to vote yes on Proposition 32 include Republicans, younger Californians, those with some college experience, Caucasians, upper middle-income households, and private sector workers. However running a statistical test indicates that only self-identifying as a Republican and being between 35-44 is predictive of voting yes on Proposition 32. 

California telephone poll conducted October 11th-15th on both landline and cell phones, 696 adults, margin of error +/- 3.8%. The sample also includes 508 likely voters, with a margin of error of +/- 5.1%. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full methodology can be found here. Full poll results found here.

This post has been updated to incorporate the important issue of free speech as it relates to Proposition 32.

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