EPIC/MRA Statewide Poll - Sept. 7-12, 2006
Question 15. Proposal 2 would amend the Michigan constitution to ban public institutions from using affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin for public employment, education or contracting purposes. Public institutions affected include state government, local governments, public colleges and universities, community colleges and local public school districts. The proposal would prohibit public institutions from discriminating against groups or individuals due to their gender, ethnicity, race, color or national origin. However, a separate provision of the state constitution already prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin. Based on what you know or have heard or read about this issue, if the election were held today, would you vote yes in favor of the proposal or no to oppose it?
[if undecided] Well, if the election were held today and you had to decide right now, would you lean toward voting YES to favor the proposal or NO to oppose it?
Q: Should affirmative action be banned?
[Note: these paragraphs are excerpts of a news report on the poll in The Free Press, 10/18/06.] The new poll showed little change from Free Press-Local 4 polls conducted in July and late August on the issue. In line with other surveys on the volatile topic, men were more likely to favor the ban than women (47%-36% respectively). White men, in fact, are the only large voting bloc in which a majority support the proposal (53%-37%). African Americans remain deeply opposed to the ban on affirmative action (83%-15%).
Yet at the same time, voters were skeptical about some of the arguments commonly used to bolster support for the practice. They disagreed, 60%-32%, with the statement that affirmative action was "needed to compensate minorities and women for centuries of oppression." An overwhelming majority, 76%, agreed that "it is unfair to judge applicants on anything other than their qualifications." Yet three out of four said diversity in the classroom gives students a competitive edge in the global economy. And a plurality of voters (45%-42%) said that even if affirmative action may harm some individuals, "the good that it has done makes up for that."
The majority in the survey have so far not been convinced by opponents of the ban that the main beneficiaries of affirmative action are women rather than minorities. Poll respondents said minorities have benefited more (51%-21%). The remainder said they've benefited equally or had no opinion. Pointing out the benefits of affirmative action for women has been one of the primary tactics of the Proposal 2 opposition campaign, in part because there are more women, and women are more politically powerful than minorities.
The poll results suggest they may be able to succeed without winning that argument. Nevertheless, women were more likely to oppose the ban than men, especially white men; 47% of women oppose the ban, while 36% support it. Selzer said people seem to believe "there are good arguments on both sides. They might make up their minds based on the last persuasive argument they hear."
[For & Against Proposal 2, Wording of Question Not Stated]
In Metro Detroit, public opinion is equally divided at 47% Yes and 47% No. In the rest of the state, the Initiative is favored by a 50-38 margin. [From a Detroit News report, Nov. 1, 2006.]
of Civil Rights Initiative Too Close To Call
[Note: The breakdown below, copied from the Detroit News website, gives the percentages of Yes and No for various categories of voters, but unfortunately not for the total surveyed.]