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Prop. 16: Affirmative Action Measure Trailing By Double-Digits Before Election, Berkeley Poll Finds

(KPIX 5) – A week before Election Day, a new poll shows Proposition 16, which would reinstate affirmative action in college admissions, public employment and the issuance of government contracts, is trailing among the California electorate.

The poll, conducted by UC Berkeley's Institute Of Governmental Studies, shows Prop. 16 behind by double-digits:

• Yes               38%
• No               49%
• Undecided  15%

"Its chances are not great," said Mark DiCamillo, Director of the Berkeley IGS Poll.

DiCamillo said the online poll, conducted October 16-21, had a higher than usual number of respondents, 6,686 registered voters. That was likely due to the high interest during presidential election year, and also because of the shelter-in-place orders could be allowing more people time to participate.

The poll also found wide margins amongst moderate voters.

• No Party Preference  Yes 36%   No 47%  Undecided 17%
• Other Parties              Yes 34%   No 55%  Undecided 11%

"Most of those groups are not on the extremes, and how those people in the middle view things, usually is a good indicator," said DiCamillo.

ALSO READ: Prop. 22: Berkeley Poll Finds Voters Closely Divided Over Measure Backed By Uber, Lyft

The Yes on Prop 16 campaign has mounted an aggressive push, airing a commercial that shows images of marchers in Charlottesville, carrying Tiki torches, when referencing opponents of the measure.

Rowena Itchon, senior vice president at the Pacific Research Institute based in San Francisco, authored a piece titled "Prop 16 - No Truth In Advertising," saying about the Tiki torch footage that "the implications are shockingly clear."

"When I first saw the ad, I thought it was very, very disturbing," said Itchon. "Americans know what that torch procession looks like. And it implies that those who want to see Prop 16 go down, are only young White men. That couldn't be further from the truth. The coalition against Prop 16 is led by Ward Connerly, an African American man, and again there are Asian American groups all across the state who oppose Prop 16."

Itchon said the passage of Prop 16 would hurt the Asian community.

"The negative impact on Asian American kids because they are over represented, based on the state's population that over represented, some of America's colleges. So I think what a young, young Asian Americans will lose slots. Even though they had worked hard. They've got great test scores, did a lot of community activity. I think they would eventually lose out," said Itchon.

The Berkeley IGS poll also broke down respondents' results for Prop 16 by race:

• Asian    Yes 39%   No 50%  Undecided 11%
• White    Yes 35%   No 53%  Undecided 12%
• Black     Yes 58%  No 33%  Undecided 9%
• Latino    Yes 40%  No 42%  Undecided 18%

Walter Wilson, committee member with the Yes on Prop 16 campaign, "without a doubt, absolutely" stood by the use of the Tiki torch video.

Wilson provided KPIX 5 with photos taken at a campaign event at City Hall in Pasadena on the weekend of October 3, showing "No on Prop 16" signs, interspersed throughout the crowd with cardboard cutouts of President Donald Trump, and Trump 2020 banners and flags.

"I have a question, are they upset about being lumped in with Donald Trump?" asked Wilson. "I'm talking about those very same people, those communities who have the audacity to try to say that that we don't deserve, Black people in particular who have 400 years of slavery and oppression in this country, we don't deserve the opportunity to try to have a level playing field because of that? Let's have a conversation about race. Let's talk about what's happening in this country, to the Black people, and particularly in California."

"Because at the end of the day, I'm here, trying to make life better for my kids, my grandkids, and my families. I know what affirmative action has done, to the lives of Blacks and Latinos and even the poor Asians and the women of this state," said Wilson.

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