By Torey Van Oot
Published: Wednesday, Sep. 21, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Republican legislators in Sacramento are crying foul over an eleventh-hour push to limit future initiatives to November general elections.

But the idea behind the union-backed legislation doesn’t seem so bad to a majority of GOP voters, according to a new Field Poll.

Registered Republicans supported the proposed change by a 15-point margin, 52 percent to 37 percent. Overall, 56 percent of voters back the proposal, which was approved by the Legislature and is now awaiting action by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

Democrats supporting Senate Bill 202 argued that putting initiatives up for a vote in higher-turnout general elections would ensure that more Californians have a say in the measures that impact their lives.

Republicans accused Democrats of jamming through a change to the initiative process that would benefit their own political aims, including delaying a union-opposed measure expected to qualify for the June 2012 primary election. That election should hold more interest for GOP voters, who will choose a presidential candidate to face President Barack Obama.

Despite the potential political impacts, Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo said average voters aren’t tuned in to the maneuvering behind the last-minute legislation. To them, the idea of considering initiatives in the election they are more likely to vote in “sounds reasonable,” he said.

“It kind of sprung out on people at the last minute,” DiCamillo said. “You have to be reading the tea leaves of what’s going on in Sacramento to even be aware that this is a contentious issue.”

The possible political implications of the proposal didn’t change the mind of one Republican voter who told pollsters she was in favor of the idea.

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