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Web poll: Small businesses, teachers influential with voters

April 12, 2012 |  3:27 pm

Small business owners and teachers are most likely to influence California voters' choices this November, more so than Gov. Jerry Brown, anti-tax groups, or unions, according to an experimental online poll released Thursday.

The USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences released the results of the online survey of Californians' opinions, conducted between March 19 and March 21. The experiment is not related to the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll released last month, though it asked many similar questions.

"There's no doubt to me that the future of public opinion research is going to be conducted over the Internet," said Dan Schnur, director of USC's Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, in a conference call with reporters. He said that although the survey of 1,874 registered voters -- who, pollsters said, received compensation worth less than $1 -- was an experiment, he was satisfied with its accuracy because its results were so similar to the USC/Times poll, which is conducted by telephone and without compensation.

The Internet survey, conducted jointly by Democratic polling firm Tulchin Research and Republican M4 Strategies, was able to include additional questions because respondents have more patience online, pollsters said.

In one series of questions, voters were asked which entities may influence their vote in November. Small businesses ranked first, affecting 56 % of respondents, followed by teachers, who would catch the attention of 48%. Next were local businesses at 47%, and Gov. Jerry Brown, whose potential November initiative to raise taxes is backed by teachers unions and opposed by some small business groups, at 42%.

Unions, the California Chamber of Commerce and the state's most prominent tax limitation group, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., all registered below 40%.

"There's no question," Schnur said, "you're going to see a lot more small business owners and teachers in ads this fall than politicians."

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-- Nicholas Riccardi in Sacramento

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