Thursday, January 24, 2008

Phil Specter's Initiative

In 1958 the only hit of Phil Specter's first singing group, the Teddy Bears, was "To Know, Know, Know Him, is to Love, Love, Love Him." On the February 5 ballot is a proposition which seems to have worked in the opposite way. The polling on Proposition 93 suggests that the more the voters get to know the proposition, the more they hate it. A month ago when about a quarter of the voters had heard about it, the Proposition was barely passing. Now two thirds know something about it and the positive side has dropped eleven points to less than forty percent.

Proposition 93 proposes to change the California term limits law which currently allows three terms in the lower house and two in the upper, for a total of 14 years. The measure would allow a legislator to serve only twelve years but serve all of them in one house. In a classic demonstration of political Rent Seeking, the authors added a self-serving kicker that extends their personal term limits well beyond the current standard of fourteen years. Opponents have pointed that delightful addition out and as voters realize that poison pill they are increasingly rejecting it. There might be a very good reason for changing the term limits to increase expertise in the legislature but the kicker is normal political BS.

The proposition had one other problem created for it. Our governor wants his proposal for a change in the health care system and so even though term limits is like a Rosetta Stone of mantras for republicans, he has made some ads to support the measure. Opponents have also pointed out that "tit for tat" stance, which has also weakened support. Dems and non-partisans are more inclined to vote for the thing. But the GOP support has dropped from 56% to 38%. One other interesting thing about the poll - the Governor may over estimate his influence. About 70% of the voters say his comments have no effect on their opinions about the measure.

Perhaps, as Specter awaits his next trial they could get him to come out in favor of the measure. That might really seal the deal.

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