Republicans in California had rallied around a gas tax repeal known as Proposition 6, but the measure is now at risk of failing, according to a new poll. That could mean trouble for some GOP candidates who pinned hopes on gaining votes from supporters of the ballot initiative.
Top House Republican leaders have been contributors to the gas tax repeal effort, hoping it will boost GOP voter turnout in tight congressional races in California. Republican John Cox, who is running for governor against Democrat Gavin Newsom, also has made support of the repeal a centerpiece of his underdog campaign.
"The idea that this thing would galvanize Republicans, get them out in all these competitive congressional districts, doesn't seem to be the case," said Thad Kousser, professor of political science at University of California, San Diego. "It's something that some Californians love, some Californians hate — and it's not completely a party issue."
If passed, Proposition 6 would repeal an increase in gas taxes as well as vehicle fees passed last year by the Democratic-led state legislature. It was part of state Senate Bill 1, a transportation funding package to help pay for a backlog of repairs to roads, highways and bridges. SB-1 resulted in the state excise tax on gasoline rising by 12 cents per gallon, or 40 percent.
A phone poll released this week by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found 41 percent of likely voters support Proposition 6, while 48 percent oppose it; 11 percent were undecided. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points. Last month, the institute found 39 percent supported it and 52 percent opposed it.
Repeal proponents, or the "yes on 6" side, contend the increased fuel taxes, which include diesel, are unnecessary because there was already enough money to fix roads and highways.
Some also contend the gas tax hike is a job killer for small businesses since they could hire new employees with the money they are now shelling out in added fuel taxes. Then again, labor unions and construction groups have released studies arguing the new fuel taxes will support thousands of new jobs every year.