If anyone ever tells you that money doesn't matter in California politics, show them the results of the new statewide poll on voter support for Proposition 29.
The initiative -- which would add an additional $1 tax per pack of cigarettes and use the money for cancer research -- is still ahead in the new poll... but not by much.
The poll from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California finds that 53 percent of those surveyed now say they'll vote for Prop 29. Which sounds good, until you consider that in March 67 percent supported the measure.
Meantime, opposition has gone up from 30 percent in March to 42 percent now.
Put it all together and Prop 29 -- which was winning by a whopping 37 points two months ago -- is now only ahead by 11 points.
The big change since March: the anti Prop 29 bonanza of television ads. Tobacco companies ponied up some $40 million to kill the initiative, which gives them about a 7-1 advantage in campaign cash over Prop 29 supporters like the American Cancer Society and cyclist Lance Armstrong.
And so if you're the Yes on 29 team, your best strategy may be to keep the focus on the money -- at least that's what their latest internet video, a version which aired on ABC stations during prime time last night.
Meantime, support remains strong for Proposition 28, the modification of legislative term limits. PPIC's poll finds 62 percent support the initiative, while 29 percent oppose it. And lest you think it's liberal Democrats that are the reason for the measure's support in the polls, PPIC found Prop 28 is also supported by 63 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of those who say they are conservative.
It was widely believed that national term limits supporters, who see Prop 28 as a loosening of California's 22 year old law, would only drop big bucks into an opposition campaign if the polling was trending their way along the homestretch. The new poll strongly suggests that's not happening, and so Prop 28 may have a pretty good shot of doing what two previous term limits revamp initiatives have not.
The new poll also finds Gov. Brown's November tax initiative holding relatively steady (56 percent support now versus 54 percent last month) -- not bad, but given the history of initiatives, it's probably not enough to make Team Jerry feel overly confident going into the main stretch of the 2012 election season.