And if that’s going to change, it may all come down to one guy.
"The burden is now on the governor," said Mark Baldassare, PPIC's pollster and president.
Gov. Jerry Brown, as we've mentioned before, is running what amounts to a non-campaign for another four years, choosing instead to run a campaign for passage of Prop. 1 and Prop. 2 -- a proxy, of sorts, for his own re-election efforts. His only television ads in this election season have been for the two propositions.
"Save water, save money," says Brown in the ads. Yes, but the visuals of those ads -- and the message that really resonates -- is the one about the state's drought.
Even if the ads connect with voters, the new statewide poll suggests there could be a different problem: Brown may not be the best person to reach some parts of the electorate.
Dig down deep into the survey and you’ll find what at best is skepticism from a number of voter subgroups. Conservative voters? Only 41 percent support Prop. 2. Voters who think the state is headed in the wrong direction? Only 42 percent support for the budget reserve measure. Latino voters? Only 44 percent are backing Prop. 2.
It may not be all the governor's fault, of course. And lest we forget to mention it, the new poll continues to show him poised to win an unprecedented fourth term on Nov. 4, besting GOP challenger Neel Kashkari in this latest poll by 16 percentage points. Still, those aren't all necessarily voters who are fans of Brown.
Take Republicans, for example. The new poll finds Prop. 2 support among GOP voters at 49 percent (and, as said earlier, self-described conservatives are even less enamored). But these should be the natural base for a proposal that automatically transfers more tax revenues to a reserve fund while also paying off billions in government debt over the next several years.
"We're seeing Republican support lagging" for the proposition, said PPIC's Baldassare. "They are only hearing about Proposition 2 from the Democratic governor."
The lack of a more visible bipartisan team hasn't gone unnoticed by the official Yes on Prop. 2 campaign.
"We would be benefiting if there were a more high-profile Republican spokesperson," said campaign manager Phillip Ung. "We haven't been able to identify that person."
But again, it's not just Republicans. Even more striking are the Latino voter numbers. PPIC's new poll shows Brown's re-election bid supported by an overwhelming 73 percent of Latinos surveyed -- 29 points higher than their support for the state budget measure on which Brown is starring in TV ads.
Prop. 2 is also struggling in the Bay Area, with only 44 percent support in the new poll. Pollster Baldassare suggests that some of the weakness among Democrats or liberals could be with those who believe the state needs to restore public services cut during the recession more than it needs to sock money away.
None of these numbers are a sign that the complex budget reserve proposition is a sure-fire loser, with a little less than two weeks to go before Election Day. But there are three reasons that Prop. 2 backers would be right to worry about the trend lines.
First, the historic tendency of California voters who sit on the fence up until the last minute when it comes to a ballot measure is to ultimately vote against it (or leave it blank, which is really the same thing). As political consultants know, it's much harder to get a "yes" than a "no."
Second, with more voters casting ballots by mail, and more of those ballots coming in every day, there's precious little time to change minds. The days of a last-minute campaign turnaround are dwindling in California.
And third -- perhaps most importantly -- Brown is unlikely to do much more PR to sway voters in the final days. His campaign in support of Prop. 2 has slowly started to include others, but it's still a pretty quiet effort. And even then, these are ads that are really geared toward the water bond. Check out the latest ad, featuring a woman called "Farmer Jenny."