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September 8, 2003
Opposition Increases to November Ballot Issues
Analysis by Floyd Ciruli
Among the three proposals headed for the Nov. 4, 2003, ballot, only one, the $2 billion water bonds initiative, is substantially ahead in a recent Ciruli Associates poll. But even it lost support from mid-July to mid-August. Although it has the support of Gov. Bill Owens and U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, opposition has intensified the last 30 days with public criticism for the referendum from Congressman Scott McInnis and many West Slope legislators. Attorney General Ken Salazar is leading the Democratic opposition. Also opposing the referendum are many environmental groups.
Question: A proposal to add electronic video lottery machines at dog and horse tracks. Proceeds would provide funding for state parks or open space and for the state to spend on promoting tourism.
The ballot questions are part of regular Ciruli Associates reports on top issues. The two polls were conducted by Ciruli Associates July 14-22, 2003 with 800 frequent voters (±3.4 percentage points), and August 8-16, 2003 with 601 frequent voters (±4.0 percentage points).
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The video lottery terminal proposal was initiated by voter signature. The initiative began its campaign with 42% support and 44% opposition. Even after substantial television advertising, it lost support in the latest survey (40% favor and 48% approve). The proposal has attracted early opposition from Gov. Owens and State Treasurer Mike Coffman. The opposition campaign will be funded by Colorado's existing casino industry.
The prime sponsors, England-based gaming entrepreneurs Wembly Corporation, will have to conduct an effective campaign to overcome Colorado voter inclination to reject gaming expansions. They intend to argue that gaming is a good business in a weak economy. The campaign promises to be expensive and heated.
Most voters do not as yet have an opinion on the effort to freeze the Gallagher Amendment's residential property tax formula at 8%. In the latest survey, 47 percent, the largest group of voters, said they did know how they would vote. Among slightly more than half of voters with an opinion, opponents outnumber supporters 32% to 21%. This is a reversal of the mid-July survey that showed 32% support and 22% opposition.
The water bonding proposal losses over the month were largest among Democrats (10 percentage points) and the North Front Range (15 pecentage points). However, the proposal continues to hold a majority throughout the state.