- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 2, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California voters increasingly are leaning toward rejecting two dueling prescription drug initiatives, as well as an abortion measure requiring parental notification, according to a statewide poll.

The Field Poll released yesterday also showed that a pharmaceutical-backed ad blitz is influencing the voters’ view of rival measures addressing drug discounts for the poor, which are trailing.

Put together with a Field Poll released Tuesday, all eight statewide propositions on next Tuesday’s ballot are trailing. The earlier poll found that opposition also is growing to the four ballot measures supported by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

And Hollywood figures Warren Beatty and Rob Reiner are working with groups opposing the Republican governor’s agenda to campaign against his initiatives.

The drug industry has raised $80 million to defeat Proposition 79, which would force companies to discount drugs for uninsured Californians. The industry is instead supporting Proposition 78, which would make such a discount program voluntary.

Much of the industry’s money is being spent on a media blitz, said Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo.

“The barrage of negative ads seems to be influencing voters and helping to defeat Proposition 79,” Mr. DiCamillo said.

The new poll found that support for Proposition 78 fell if voters knew it was backed by the pharmaceutical industry. In June, a Field Poll found that 57 percent of likely voters supported Proposition 78. The number has dropped to 36 percent for and 45 percent against, according to the most recent poll, conducted last week.

Voters opposed the union-backed Proposition 79 by a 43 percent to 37 percent margin, with 20 percent undecided. The poll found that support for the initiative increased if voters were aware it was backed by consumer groups and labor unions.

If both propositions pass, the one with the most votes takes effect.

More voters also appear to oppose than support the abortion measure, Proposition 73, which would require parents or guardians to be notified before girls 17 or younger could get abortions. The latest Field Poll showed the measure losing 49 percent to 41 percent.

In the battle over Mr. Schwarzenegger’s four “year of reform” initiatives, Mr. Beatty, an outspoken critic of the governor, has taped a radio ad for the California Nurses Association that calls on voters to reject the measures.

Mr. Reiner planned to staff a phone bank yesterday evening to persuade voters to reject Proposition 75, which seeks to reduce the money public employee labor unions can raise for political purposes.

Mr. Schwarzenegger is promoting the union dues measure and three other initiatives on the Nov. 8 ballot: one that lengthens the probationary term for new teachers, one that imposes a cap on state spending and gives the governor authority to cut funding without legislative approval, and one that gives authority for drawing legislative and congressional districts to a panel of retired judges.

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