11 October 2016

Colorado Ballot Issue Polling

In a post a couple of weeks ago, I noted various ballot issue endorsements, but refrained from my own full fledged analysis. This time I review some recent ballot issue polling.

Via Floyd Circuli's blog.

In evaluating the odds that these measures will pass by election day, four weeks from today, it is important to note that historically, measures with less than 50% support in the polls usually fail because undecided voters decisively break in favor of voting no on almost all issues.


There is no real chance that Colorado voters will adopt a single payer health care system by passing Amendment 69 (even though Obamacare provides for the possibility relatively gracefully). Voters polled already oppose it by a 24 percentage point margin and that will only get worse when undecided voters break against it.

It is also unlikely that Colorado voters will allow undeclared voters to routinely vote in partisan primary elections. This six point lead in the polls will vanish as the 22% of voters who are undivided break strongly in favor of voting no.


On the other hand, the assisted suicide initiated law (Proposition 106) has very solid support despite a concerted effort by the Roman Catholic church and other religious groups to stop it, as does a significant minimum wage increase (Amendment 70), an initiated law to mandate an open Presidential primary in 2020 (Proposition 107), and a massive increase in cigarette taxes (Amendment 72) (despite massive spending by the tobacco industry to oppose it).

Close Call

The only close call for which polling is available is Amendment 71 (Raise the Bar) which is backed by the oil and gas industry to make it harder to pass anti-fracking measures in the future, although many good government advocates have called for a slightly less draconian version of the measure.

Measures With No Polling

There is no polling on the measures referred by the Colorado General Assembly with bipartisan support to abolish the criminal conviction exception to the prohibition on slavery and involuntary servitude in the state constitution (Amendment T) and the proposed exception for certain kinds of possessory, non-ownership interests in government owned property worth $6,000 or less (Amendment U) that tend to be more expensive to collect than the revenue that they generate (examples include people who lease land from the federal government for cattle grazing, skiing or river rafting.)

Amendment T will almost surely pass.  Who wants to vote in favor of slavery? Amendment U is a toss up. There is very little campaigning on either side, voters are often suspicious of tax related measures, and voters are less deferential to measures proposed with bipartisan legislative support than you would expect.

There is also no polling of which I am aware on a host of tax and bond issues on the ballot this year, by variously local government and the regional SCFD that finances cultural programs. Most local fiscal measures (all of which are referred, something required by TABOR) pass historically, but these measures are rarely a sure thing. In metro Denver, a sense of prosperity may help, while an affordable housing crunch may hurt. These measures do better in Presidential election years than in off year elections, but they are still hard to predict.

There is also no polling on a referendum in the City and County of Denver proposing certainly kinds of private marijuana consumption clubs in Denver. But, it has wide support in the City Council, Denver has generally been quite pro-marijuana, and there is little or no organized opposition, so it will probably pass.

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