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The Times Poll : Anti-Toxics Proposition Has Huge 52-Point Lead

September 13, 1986|GEORGE SKELTON | Times Sacramento Bureau Chief

Californians of all incomes, ages and political bents are overwhelmingly supporting Proposition 65, the anti-toxics measure on the November ballot, The Los Angeles Times Poll has found.

The initiative's margin of support is a staggering 52 points, thereby providing a highly popular issue for its Democratic advocates--such as Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston--to campaign on this fall.

Voters also favor--by a resounding 48-point margin--a ballot measure that would decree English to be the official state language.

But they are rejecting--by 16 points--an initiative being pushed by supporters of ultraconservative Lyndon H. LaRouche that would restrict the activities of AIDS victims.

They also are leaning--by nine points--against a measure sponsored by anti-tax crusader Paul Gann that would limit the salaries of top state and local officials.

In contests for various offices, voters continue to resist--by a large 21-point margin--the reconfirmation of California Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird. But two associate justices who also are the targets of conservative opposition--Cruz Reynoso and Joseph R. Grodin--are being supported by margins of 15 points and 18 points respectively.

In the battle for lieutenant governor, Republican Mike Curb holds a narrow five-point lead over Democratic incumbent Leo McCarthy. And in the open race for controller, Democratic Assemblyman Gray Davis of Los Angeles is eight points ahead of Republican state Sen. William Campbell of Hacienda Heights.

The Times Poll, directed by I. A. Lewis, interviewed 1,550 registered California voters by telephone for six days ending last Tuesday night. The margin of error for a survey of this size is 3% in either direction.

Asked how they intend to vote Nov. 4, those surveyed responded this way, by contest:

- Proposition 61, the salary initiative: Yes, 38%; no, 47%; undecided 15%.

- Proposition 63, the English initiative: Yes, 70%; no, 22%, undecided, 8%.

- Proposition 64, the AIDS initiative: Yes, 35%; no, 51%; undecided, 14%.

- Proposition 65, the anti-toxics initiative: Yes, 68%; no, 16%; undecided, 16%.

- Lieutenant governor: Curb, 37%; McCarthy, 32%; others, 2%; not sure, 29%.

- Controller: Davis, 31%; Campbell, 23%; others, 4%; not sure, 42%.

- Chief Justice Bird: Yes, 33%; no, 54%; undecided, 13%.

- Justice Reynoso: Yes, 31%; no, 16%; undecided, 53%.

- Justice Grodin: Yes, 31%; no, 13%; undecided, 56%.

Three other associate justices--Malcolm Lucas, Stanley Mosk and Edward Panelli--will also be on the ballot seeking reconfirmation. There is no organized opposition against any of them, and the poll found each to be enjoying solid support margins, respectively, of 27 points, 32 points and 30 points.

Hoped to Aid Bradley

Proposition 65--officially called the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Initiative--was created, sponsored and financed largely by supporters of Bradley, who hoped that it would help him in his gubernatorial campaign. The measure, among other things, would make it illegal to intentionally release into drinking water any substance known to cause cancer or birth defects. It also would require companies to warn the public before knowingly exposing people to such toxic chemicals.

The proposal is strongly supported by virtually every socioeconomic class and political ideology, The Times Poll found.

For example, 69% of the people who went to college support it, as do 63% of those who never finished high school. Among the various occupations, it is backed by 66% of the people in management and by 69% of those who are blue-collar and white-collar workers. Within the age groups, 79% of people between 18 and 29 support it, as do 59% of those over 65. It is supported by 75% of the liberals and 67% of the conservatives; by 69% of the Democrats and 66% of the Republicans.

What is more, it is resoundingly supported by people who intend to vote for Gov. George Deukmejian over Bradley and Rep. Ed Zschau over Cranston. Both Republican candidates oppose Proposition 65--Zschau announcing his position only Friday--and they clearly are swimming against the political tide. Their opponents, Bradley and Cranston, meanwhile are making the issue of toxics cleanup a centerpiece of their campaigns, hoping it will attract to the polls potential voters who are worried about the environment and tend to vote Democratic.

Deukmejian, leading by nine points in this latest Times poll, is supported by people who back the anti-toxics initiative 65% to 18%, with 17% undecided. Zschau, trailing by a large 15-point margin, is backed by people who favor the initiative 62% to 21%, with 17% undecided. What this offers Bradley and Cranston, of course, is a weak spot to attack in their opponents' support base.

Cutting Issue for Democrats

Potentially, toxics could be a cutting issue in the gubernatorial and senatorial races that pulls some voters away from the Republican candidates--and this is the Democratic strategy.

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