The Denver Post's Kevin Simpson reports on a new poll from GOP-aligned polling firm Magellan Strategies. Not surprisingly, this poll shows this year's school finance initiative, Amendment 66, in "serious trouble."
A survey by Louisville-based Magellan Strategies found that only 7 percent of 600 likely voters said they were "extremely informed" about the proposed amendment, which would revise the way education funds are parceled out to school districts and put more money toward expanded kindergarten, preschool, at-risk students and English-language learners.
Focusing on the tax ramifications, which would provide for a two-step state income tax increase, the poll asked two questions. First, it asked one with minimal information about the amendment and then a second question with more detailed information about the proposed new tax structure.
To the general question, 44 percent indicated they would oppose the measure, compared with 38 percent in support and 18 percent undecided.
The margin against the measure widened with the more detailed question, as 52 percent said they opposed it to 38 percent in support and 10 percent undecided. [Pols emphasis]
Sounds pretty bad for the school finance initiative, doesn't it? That's in large part because the Post didn't tell its readers anything about who made this poll, or what it actually asked in the way of questions. For that rather vital part of the story, we must turn to FOX 31's Eli Stokols:
[T]he results themselves aren’t quite as clear as Coloradans for Real Education Reform, the group that paid for the poll, argue.
First off, the party weighting for this survey is set to 39% Republican, 34% Democrat and 27% unaffiliated — Magellan calls it a “good projection of 2013 turnout demographics”, and it may well be.
Initially, when respondents were asked about Amendment 66 without being told more about what it does, the initiative is losing by a 52-33 percent margin with men.
But, women supported it by a 42-37 percent margin and Hispanics favored it by a 53-34 percent margin…
As Stokols takes the time to explain where the Post didn't, this poll was more or less engineered to produce the result sought by opponents of Amendment 66. Magellan claims that once voters become "informed" about the initiative, support for Amendment 66 drops across the board–but the "additional information" given in this poll says nothing about what the money would be spent on. Not even that it's an education initiative at all! Naturally, if your "additional information" consists solely of how much more people will pay, without including anything about what they're paying for, it's not going to be received very favorably. Proponents understand that their success depends on what voters will get for their money, where opponents naturally only want to talk about the cost.
Kudos to Eli Stokols for asking the very basic questions that dramatically change the story of this poll. Magellan Strategies, for context, also predicted that Ryan Frazier would defeat Ed Perlmutter in 2010, and Magellan CEO David Flaherty even predicted that year that Tom Tancredo "will become Colorado's next governor." Safe to say, their track record is mixed at best.
We'll leave it to readers to puzzle out why the Denver Post didn't tell you that.