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Jerry Brown tax hike suddenly on the ropes. Does he have time to save it?

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A separate poll by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) put support among likely voters at 48 percent, below the 50 percent needed for passage. That’s a four-point drop from their own poll a month ago.

Analysts say that more than just the state’s finances are imperiled if the ballot measure fails.

“The future of his governorship, indeed his legacy, rest on the passage of Prop. 30,” says David McCuan, professor of political science at Sonoma State University. “If you need further evidence of this just look to how Arnold Schwarzenegger was emasculated with many trips to the ballot.”

Professor McCuan and others say the drop in support has come for two primary reasons. One is that Brown has failed to sufficiently convince voters to pass the measure, relying on the negative argument, that “if it doesn’t pass, education will suffer” – which many voters felt as a threat. The other reason is that a rival tax measure, Prop. 38, backed by deep pocket millionaires, began negative attack ads on Brown’s measure.

“Tax measures in California face two problems: The voters rarely approve tax increases, and intense moneyed opposition usually means voters are confused and thus will vote ‘no,’ ” says Robert Stern, former president of the Center for Governmental Studies.

Noting that only once in the last 10 years has a tax been passed – a millionaire's tax for mental health funding – he concludes, “it is not unusual that Brown's initiative probably will lose.”

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