Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

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.


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.

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

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  1. …disproportionally affects unions, since unions overwhelmingly raise their political money through payroll deductions.

    Anti-facepunching laws disproportionally affect me because I spend much more of my time than average punching people in the face.

    1. There should be a federal/state program to mitigate this disparate impact effecting you.

      I’ll see if I can get a telethon scheduled!

      1. Do that or I’ll punch you in the face.

      2. Americathon! Really, I’m shocked that movie isn’t getting played or remade right now. It has an almost perfect fit to our zeitgeist.

    2. If you’d switch to junkpunching you could get around those pesky laws.

      1. I suppose you only punch men, you sexist prick.

        1. Look, I’ll have you know I’ve beaten my share of women. And they were all asking for it by not bringing me a beer or turkey pot pie quickly enough.

          1. They were too busy burning your spawn for spilling paint in the garage.

            1. I pine for the days when a black eye was the sign of a poorly made sandwich.

          2. Well, that IS one of the 9 ways to treat a woman.

            1. FYI

              Treating women like Nintendo cartridge does not work.

              If she stops playing Zenda you may as well get a new one.

  2. I voted against prop 32 because it seems to be an infringement of the 1st amendment, re: banning campaign contributions.

    1. I don’t recall the First Amendment guaranteeing the right of organizations to force you to speak the way they like.

      1. I thought money wasn’t speech.

          1. Wait…if time is money and money doesn’t equal speech then silence truly is golden!

          2. Wait…if time is money and money doesn’t equal speech then silence truly is golden!

            1. Important enough discovery to post it twice!

      2. Don’t give money to unions, corporations, and government contractors then.

        If you’re forced to pay dues to these organizations, that’s a separate issue.

        Proponents of this will probably be surprised when it comes back to bite them in the ass, but they shouldn’t have been.

        1. Right, I think the problem with the proposition is that it joins two separate things.

          1. Exactly; it’s really an unfortunate pairing of two distinct issues.

        2. Right, I was unclear: I’m only responding to the automatic deduction issue.

          1. But the automatic deduction is just a convenience for someone who has to pay a bill anyway.

            1. It’s about automatic deductions for union dues, not for paying a bill.

      3. Assuming this was a term of employment that you agreed to, nobody is forcing anyone to do anything

    2. I have this same concern.

    3. Suppose that your neighborhood decided to form a homeowners’ association and charged everybody in the vicinity a $100/month membership fee to cover expenses, general improvements, and things of that nature. Aside from moving to a different neighborhood, you do not have the option to not be a member or not pay dues.

      Should the homeowners’ association be allowed to take that money and donate it to politicians?

      1. are HOAs governments?

        1. “are HOAs governments?”

          Wait… Where did… What??

          I’m not sure where you got that I was comparing to a government in any way. I was comparing the HOA to a union in that they both take mostly involuntary contributions which are supposed to be for a specific purpose. We aren’t talking about an entity that earned its money by selling a service to willing customers.

          Obviously it would be very, very wrong to restrict the political speech/contributions of MEMBERS of a union, but a union and a business aren’t in the same category when it comes to their money and how they can spend it. For instance, most of us would have no problem with the notion of a corporation buying a corporate jet to fly their executives around, at least from a “should this be legal” standpoint. Can you imagine a union doing that? There would be an outcry about how they took the money from the workers that was supposed to be used for the workers’ benefit and wasted it, and rightly so.

          If I give my money (or it is taken from me) with the understanding that it is going to be used for a specific purpose, requiring it to be used for that purpose is not a violation of free speech.

    4. All of the commercials here in CA say to vote against 32 because if it wins, “The oil billionaire Koch Brothers and George Bush’s Karl Rove will vote themselves tax breaks, while the middle class suffers.” That is verbatim.

      1. The commercials are such bullshit I can barely stand it. It’s about “special exemptions” because other organizations that collect money voluntarily aren’t covered! Well, yeah, it’s to stop money being collected involuntarily.

        1. A million times this. Basically their definition of an “exemption” is the fact that it doesn’t restrict corporations or rich people (or, you know, anybody else) from donating to Super-PACs.

          Personally, I think asking for a change that would require a constitutional amendment to be part of a state-level proposition is a bit much.

  3. 85150. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law and this title, no corporation, labor union, or public employee labor union shall make a contribution to any candidate, candidate controlled committee; or to any other committee, including a political party committee, if such funds will be used to make contributions to any candidate or candidate controlled committee.

    I don’t see how libertarians can support this.

    1. I am attracted to it because Democrats hate it. But it’s unprincipled. And dishonest too, since it clumps together different things, some of which are obviouisly protected, in order to restrict just one thing.

    2. Most (?) states already prohibit business corporations from making donations to campaigns.

      Its a holdover from ye olde idea that business corporations were there to make money for their shareholders, not to spend the shareholder’s money on the pet causes of management. The prohibition doesn’t apply to non-profits organized for the purpose of being socially/politically active.

      Expanding this prohibition to unions strikes me as an excellent idea, personally. Their funds are supposed to be for the benefit of union members, not for the pet causes of union management.

  4. It should be pointed out that California unions are going to a lot of trouble to convince their members that Prop 32 is the English translation of Mein Kampf, so it stands to reason that union members would lean against the bill even if they might not be crazy about political payroll deductions. A CHP officer with whom I was discussing the bill was told by his union that the bill would take away their “right to negotiate”. The “No on 32” signs that people are putting up refer to it as the “Special Exemptions Act”. The vast majority of the people who are against it do not actually know what the bill does, they just know that their team is against it and the other team is for it. It’s a lot easier to just read a party or union-provided voter guide than it is to actually read a bill, even a bill as short and straightforward as this one.

    I will say that when I was a private sector union member, there were quite a few of us (myself included) who disliked the fact that our money was used for political purposes. We didn’t have a choice (aside from “quit your job) as to whether or not we would be union members or pay union dues, and the union was going to use some of that money for political causes whether we liked it or not.

    1. (Cont.) As to the libertarian argument against the bill (which was one of my first thoughts when I read it as well), that the bill prohibits unions or corporations from contributing directly to candidates (or channeling money to candidates through another party), here are my current thoughts on the matter:

      1. California is not a right-to-work state, unfortunately. Unions, like government itself, do not have money of their own to spend, only the money that they take from their members. If a union is spending money, it is spending money that it took from its members ostensibly for the purposes of defending and representing said members. Prohibiting unions from making a deduction specifically for political spending but then still allowing them to make donations from their general fund accomplishes nothing whatsoever.

      2. Members of unions and employees of corporations would remain free to make donations of their own, but would gain the freedom NOT to make a donation if they choose not to do so.

    2. Every union member that i know looks to their union voter guide for guidance and votes exactly opposite of the union’s recommendations.

      1. Generally not a bad idea. There are quite a few people though who think of unions as the plucky underdog sticking up for the little guy, and would never vote for a bill that didn’t meet with union approval.

        1. Mostly ‘elites’ that have never belonged to a union.

  5. Nov. 1, 2012 5:23 pm


    What the hell??

    Get back in line cutter!

  6. You know, this shit never happened when LUCY STEIGERWALD was around.

    Yeah, I said it!

  7. While I’m not fan of unions, I had to vote no on this on libertarian principles

    1. Agreed. Nothing says “libertarian” more than continuing to allow mandatory dues to be used for political donations you disagree with.

      1. If you agreed to the terms of employment, you’re not being coerced into anything. Libertarians always support the rights of employers to put whatever conditions they want on employment, as long as the employee or potential employee has the right to say “no” and that as long as the contract isn’t broken. Why is this case different? Not to mention, there’s the unrelated banning contributions thing, which is definitely unlibertarian

        1. ^Yep.
          Despising PE unions as I do, limiting speech by law is beyond the pale.
          It got a “no” vote from me.

        2. Only a complete fucking moron thinks that people voluntarily join a union by taking a job at a union shop.

          Let alone claim that supporting the union is therefor libertarian on voluntary association grounds.

          By that tortured logic, paying income and social security taxes is voluntary and opposing those is non libertarian because you knewn that paying those taxes was a condition of employment that you voluntarily accepted.

        3. Unions are considered non-profit organizations, but unlike other NPO’s they are allowed to make political donations. Would it be unlibertarian not to allow a charity to make political contributions? Sure that’s not what people had in mind when they gave their money, but them’s the breaks?

          The union exists for the purpose of defending and representing its members. If some members of the union want to try to get certain candidates elected or certain bills passed or defeated, they are more than welcome to use their own money to those ends.

          I do think that it should be fine for a union to ask for its members to voluntarily donate to a separate fund for political purposes, but the difference between that scenario and members making contributions of their own is pretty insubstantial compared to the injustice of compelled speech.

          If California were a right-to-work state and union membership were optional, I don’t think this would be an issue. As it is, there are entire professions, much less companies, where union membership is unavoidable.

          In any case, if this were a free contract between the employer and the employee as you seem to believe, the money would never be going in and back out of employee’s paycheck. It would just be a donation made by the business itself.

  8. ‘ello, what’s all this then? Why was this post bumped up? Something change? I smell a rat.

    1. Kochtopus tentacles maybe?

    2. Emily is a line cuttter and thinks she can get away with it cuz she is hot.

      Damn I hate that.

  9. Sounds like a rock solid plan to me dude.

  10. Somnetimes dude you jsut gotta roll with it man.

  11. If you invest money in a blind trust, and then come to find out that they only invested half of your money and donated the rest to “pro-business” candidates (for your own good you see!), would that be constitutionally protected speech, or did they do something wrong?

    At least in this case you went to them voluntarily.

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