Ah Yes, The Poll

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A lot has already been written about today's Field Poll and the sense that a big thumping could be in the making for all but the most marshmallowy of the May 19 budget ballot measures.

That may be. But let's dig into the numbers for a couple of ponderables, including even a few that hint all might not be decided.

First up, there's a sense that voters may not be paying too much attention... even with less than three weeks to go.

"That opens up the potential for late changes if somehow the campaign can get voters more aroused," said Field poll director Mark DiCamillo in an email exchange this morning. DiCamillo says it doesn't appear the voters are that "engaged" in all of this yet.

That definitely leaves Governor Schwarzenegger and his allies a slightly ajar door that they could try to pry open. You may remember that Schwarzenegger has pulled a rabbit out of a hat twice: in 2004, he turned a 33%-40% opposition to the Proposition 57 deficit bonds into a 50% yes in a final poll and 63% on election day.

The guv also was able to turn the tide later in 2004, this time against the amendment to the three strikes law known as Proposition 66. Field's poll in mid October showed 65% support for Prop 66. But after an intensive late campaign fronted by Schwarzenegger, the measure actually lost by five points on election day.

But Schwarzenegger was more personally popular back then. "We don't see those same variables operative in this election," DiCamillo said today via email. And as we've seen from the campaign's first TV ad, there's no mention of -- or appearance by -- the guv anywhere.

Elsewhere, the new poll makes it clear that a lot of folks might just say bah humbug to the whole package; 33% of those surveyed by Field are now planning an across-the-board rejection. That certainly has to increase the pressure for more targeted campaigns in suppport of indivudual measures. The most likely breakout artist is probably Proposition 1C, the lottery proposal that's raising a good chunk of money on its own. Of course, 1C is also the one that's most like a rotting corpse in today's poll, with 59% of those surveyed saying they oppose it.

As for the centerpiece measure for the governor, Proposition 1A, it would seem there are only two real avenues if you believe the Field Poll is on the money: talk up the possible easing to future deficits (undecided voters seem very split on this) and work the independent voters, who are actually favoring Prop 1A by 47%-40% in this poll.

One last thought: there's not a lot of time left. DiCamillo tells me he thinks that more than half of the likely small number of voters might cast ballots by mail... meaning a last-minute TV ad blitz with the money being collected could come too late.

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new multimedia California Politics & Government Desk.  He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades -- serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and, most recently, as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. He moderated the only gubernatorial debate of 2014, and was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.

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