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Bliss Institute Poll: Ohio Voters Show Mixed Support for Ballot Initiatives

Akron, Ohio, Oct. 26, 2005 — With less than two weeks remaining until the Nov. 8 election, a new survey released by The University of Akron Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics finds mixed support for Ohio's 2005 ballot initiatives.

The poll is part of a study titled “The 2005 Ohio Ballot Initiatives: Public Opinion on Issues 1-5,” conducted by the university's Survey Research Center. The complete report can be found online at www.uakron.edu/bliss/research.php.

“Ballot initiatives have long been an important part of Ohio politics, especially amendments to the state constitution,” says Dr. John C. Green, Bliss Institute director and one of the poll's directors. “However, having five constitutional amendments on the ballot in an off-year election is unusual.”
The major findings of the survey include:

• Issue 1 — the $2 billion bond issue titled “Jobs for Ohio” — appears likely to pass if present conditions hold. It was supported by three-fifths of likely voters.

• Similar evidence suggests that Issue 2, one of the “Reform Ohio Now” proposals on early voting, also seems likely to win approval barring a major change. It also was backed by more than three-fifths of likely voters.

• The outcome on the other three ballot issues is less certain. Issue 3, a campaign finance measure, appears to be slightly ahead among Ohioans who have heard or read about it. But this measure could draw on a reservoir of support from the public, with better than three-fifths among likely voters. Issue 4, on a new redistricting commission, and Issue 5, on a state election board, have majority support among voters who have heard about them. But overall, the public is skeptical of these measures, which are backed by only two-fifths of likely voters.

“These findings must be viewed with caution,” Green says, “because voter turnout in off-year elections is so difficult to predict. The last two weeks of the campaign could well make the difference for all these measures.”

The survey found that 38 percent of the public regarded the ballot measures as a strong motivation to turn out and vote in the fall. This figure is equal to the average turnout among registered voters in past off-year elections with ballot measures (2003, 2001 and 1999).

Relatively few Ohioans had heard or read about the 2005 ballot measures, ranging from 30 percent for Issue 2 (early voting) to 16 percent for Issue 5 (state election board). In some cases, there was a substantial difference between those who were aware of the measures and the general public.

“Making citizens aware of these measures is the first step in influencing their votes,” Green says, “and the level of awareness is low on all these measures.”

The survey also found support for the Tax Expenditure Limitation proposed by Citizens for Tax Reform, which might be on the ballot in fall 2006. Although just one-tenth of the public has heard or read about the proposal, more than two-thirds support the idea.

Ohioans overwhelmingly backed the idea of voting on constitutional amendments, with more than four-fifths agreeing with the statement that “amendments are a good idea because voters should have a voice in these questions.”

This report is based on a survey of a random sample of Ohio citizens interviewed by telephone between Sept. 28 and Oct. 20, 2005, at The University of Akron Survey Research Center. The number of respondents was 1,076, and the margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points. The survey is part of a broader study of ballot initiatives in Ohio politics.

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Last modified: November 11 2005 12:24:26