Original URL: http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36%257E11583%257E945018%257E,00.html

Turnaround in poll dramatic
By Julia C. Martinez
Denver Post Capitol Bureau
Thursday, October 24, 2002

As political races heat up, voters have cooled to a ballot measure requiring English immersion for non-English-speaking public school students, a survey released Wednesday shows.

Meanwhile, with 12 days before the election, races for U.S. Senate and governor remain unchanged, which doesn't
bode well for the Democratic candidates in either race, said pollster Floyd Ciruli.

Forty-three percent of registered voters now oppose the anti-bilingual-education measure known as Amendment 31, while 37 percent support it, the poll by Ciruli Associates found. That's a dramatic turnaround from just two weeks ago, when more people supported it than opposed it.

"At this point, unless there's a tremendous counter-advertising campaign, which I don't expect, it's going to go down," said Ciruli. "Among Republicans, it's 40 percent in favor and 40 percent against. That's a death knell. They would be the base of support."

The race for U.S. Senate remains neck and neck with a whopping 15 percent of voters still unsure who they will support.

Republican incumbent Wayne Allard is polling a statistically insignificant 4 percentage points ahead of Democrat Tom Strickland. Two weeks ago, it was 3 percent.

While the loss of one point for Strickland is statistically insignificant, Ciruli said, it should be worrisome to his campaign.

"I would say Strickland should be concerned. It's very, very close," said Ciruli. "He's had a lot of momentum, he's spent a lot of money and still it's close and still he's behind. I think he would be concerned that he hasn't found the issue, the
endorsement that puts him over the top."

Republican Gov. Bill Owens continues to lead Democratic challenger Rollie Heath by a comfortable margin of 59 percent to 24 percent, with Heath picking up a few points. A survey two weeks ago showed Owens at 64 percent and Heath at 21 percent.

Ciruli said the numbers reflect greater support for Heath among Democrats.

The survey of 400 registered voters was conducted between Saturday and Tuesday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent. The survey found that 14 percent had  already voted by absentee ballot or at an early polling station. Overall, it also showed that "undecided" voters increased substantially, in  part because the poll asked participants to be
more decisive than in the past - to decide for or against as opposed to asking if they "strongly support, somewhat support" and so on.

On the English-immersion issue, 20 percent said they hadn't made up their minds, in contrast with 11 percent who were undecided two weeks ago.

Nevertheless, support for Amendment 31 has clearly eroded, with more people opposing it than supporting it. The Oct. 12 poll showed that 49 percent supported it, compared with 37 percent now. Since the last poll, Owens and Heath have come out against it, and new television ads are warning that parents can sue teachers if their kids don't learn English under
the program.

The poll also showed that voters still favor limiting campaign contributions, but support for Amendment 27 has dropped 11 percentage points from two weeks ago.

Support for Referendum A, a measure to end term limits for district attorneys, also has waned.

A majority of voters still favor mail ballots, but by a much lower percentage - 43 percent compared with 56 percent earlier this month.

Opposition to Election Day registration, Amendment 30, appears to be growing, with 58 percent now objecting to the measure - 4 percentage points more than opposed it before.

And a measure to change the way candidates get on the ballot seems to be puzzling most voters, with 39 percent undecided on how they will vote on Amendment 29.

Candidates can now get on the primary ballot two ways: by getting a nomination from a small group of their own party's delegates at a meeting called a caucus or by having a required number of registered voters sign petitions. The measure would do away with the caucus process.

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