Howard Fischer, Arizona Daily Star, July 21, 2004
By a ratio of more than 4-1, Arizonan in a new statewide poll supported a ballot measure designed to cut services to people here illegally.
But the director of the campaign to kill Proposition 200 said that result is due solely to the way the question is worded. And both sides expect those numbers to narrow between now and the Nov. 2 election.
The poll done for KAET-TV, the Phoenix PBS affiliate, shows that 74 percent of those asked said they would vote for a measure to “deny state and local social and welfare services to illegal immigrants and require everyone who registers to vote to prove they are U.S. citizens and to provide identification when voting.”
Only 16 percent were opposed, with 10 percent saying they had no opinion at this point. The survey of 387 registered voters, conducted between last Thursday and Sunday, has a margin of error of 5 percentage points.
Kathy McKee, organizer of the Protect Arizona Now campaign supporting
Proposition 200, said the results reflect the true feelings of rizonans. But McKee noted the campaign has yet to start.
“We know some people with deep pockets are going to buy negative
advertising,” she said. “It will be interesting to see whether people believe the negative advertising instead of what they see with their own two eyes.”
Alfredo Gutierrez, who is heading the Statue of Liberty Coalition opposed to the ballot measure, said advertising will be used to inform would-be voters that their perceptions about what Proposition 200 would do are wrong.
He said even the name of McKee’s group, Protect Arizona Now, is misleading. He said it “implies Osama bin Laden or killer bees” and has “nothing to do with security, with safety, with the border.”
Working in his favor is the fact that the official ballot description
approved by the Secretary of State’s Office does not use “Protect Arizona Now.”
Similarly, Gutierrez said there is no mention of “illegal immigrants” in the ballot language—as there is in the poll question. The ballot language deals instead with proof of citizenship.
Pollster Bruce Merrill said the questions are based on the “common vernacular.” He also questioned whether different language would have made any difference, noting that a query last year, which never mentioned “illegal immigrants” or the organization name, brought pretty much the same results.
Here’s how the Secretary of State’s Office describes Proposition 200: “Requires proof of citizenship when registering to vote, requires rejection of voter registration not accompanied by proof of citizenship, requires identification before receiving a ballot, requires state and local governments verify identity of certain public benefits applicants and requires government employees to report immigration law violations by public benefit applicants.”
Merrill agreed with Gutierrez that poll results could change significantly if there is a high-profile advertising campaign against the measure.