Despite massive spending from Uber and Lyft, a ballot measure that would allow the app-based companies to classify drivers as independent contractors is struggling with voters heading into the last week before Election Day.
According to the final pre-election poll from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS), support for Prop 22 does not meet the 50% plus one voter threshold it needs to pass. The survey also shows Prop 15, which would change how commercial property taxes are calculated; Prop 16, which would bring back affirmative action; and Prop 21, which would allow cities to expand rent control, likely headed for defeat.
“The fates of Propositions 15 and 22 will be important signals of whether the state’s Democrats can translate their electoral advantage into substantive policy changes in taxes and corporate governance,” IGS co-director Eric Schickler said in a statement.
The lackluster support comes even as the yes campaigns have spent hundreds millions of dollars to convince voters the measures are worth passing. Prop 22 has generated $220 million from proponents and opponents — more than any statewide measure ever. The yes campaign has drummed up the bulk of the money, with rideshare and food delivery giants like DoorDash kicking in more than $199 million.
Just 46% of likely voters polled said they would vote yes on Prop 22, while 42% said they would vote no and 12% said they were undecided. A mid-September poll on the measure found 39% on the yes side and 36% in opposition, with a quarter undecided. Republicans are more likely to support Prop 22, while Democrats are more likely to reject it. And while voters in most regions of the state support it, the poll shows the measure trailing by 20 points in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Yet, the fact that the measure has picked up slightly more support than opposition in the last month is unusual, meaning conventional wisdom that a measure needs to be well north of 50% support ahead of Election Day to succeed may not hold in this case.
“It’s relatively rare for an initiative to be picking up support in the last weeks of a campaign,” said political strategist Dan Schnur. But “over the last month, the undecided vote has broken almost evenly for and against the initiative. If the supporters can keep up that trend, then they’ll pull this out by the skin of their teeth.”
And with a sizable funding advantage, the yes camp can continue to spend big money wooing undecided voters even as the fact that millions of people received mail-in ballots in early October has forced less flush campaigns to target their spending earlier. Already, more than 7 million voters in the Golden State have sent in their ballots to be counted.
“With just over a week left until the election, our internal tracking also shows growing support for Prop 22 and a widening gap over the last few days,” Yes on 22 campaign spokesman Geoff Vetter said in a statement, declining to respond to a question about the campaign’s strategy in the final days of the race.
On Prop 15, which would raise taxes on many businesses by taxing commercial property based on market value instead of purchase price, 49% of likely voters favor the idea while 42% do not and 9% remain undecided. In September, the yes side had a 15-point advantage, meaning conventional wisdom may hold.
“It’s going to be harder for them to get over 50%,” Schnur said.
The pollsters agreed, writing, “If history is any guide, when late campaign shifts toward the no side are observed in heavily contested and well-financed ballot measures like Prop. 15, its lead tends to reduce further in the closing weeks, resulting in a closer outcome.”
Supporters, including the California Teachers Association, have kicked in roughly $77 million to pass the proposition, which would direct more funding to schools, while business groups have raised $63 million to defeat it — a much more level playing field than on Prop 22.
Democrats and liberal voters are more likely to favor the measure, along with renters, while Republicans, conservative voters and homeowners oppose it.
Echoing a recent poll from the Public Policy Institute of California, the IGS poll also finds Prop 16, which would allow affirmative action in public employment, education and contracting, trailing. Just 38% of likely voters say they support the idea, while 49% oppose it and 13% remain undecided.
While Black voters strongly support the measure, Latinx voters are divided and White and Asian American voters oppose it.
“The absence of strong Latino support for Proposition 16 is surprising given that the community remains significantly underrepresented in higher education and public employment in California and would stand to benefit from the proposition’s passage,” IGS co-director Cristina Mora said in a statement.
Support for Prop 21, which would let cities apply new rent control ordinances to homes built at least 15 years ago (with exemptions for single-family homes owned by landlords with two or fewer properties), remains the same as it was in September — with backing from 37% of likely voters. But opposition has ticked up, from 37% of likely voters to 48% as undecided voters have made up their minds. While 53% of Democrats support the idea, 83% of Republicans reject it.
The survey of 5,352 likely voters was conducted in English and Spanish between Oct. 16-21 and has a sampling error of approximately 2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.