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Voting amendment sides disagree on latest poll trends of support

A coalition of groups opposing the measure say public support is weakening, but backers disagree.

A coalition of groups opposing the proposed voting amendment released an internal poll Friday showing weakening support for the ballot question as get-out-the-vote efforts dominate the remaining days of the campaign.

Our Vote Our Future released a commissioned poll conducted by Oregon-based Grove Insight that reported opposition to the amendment increasing from 37 percent on Oct. 20 to 44 percent on Oct. 30. (Grove Insight says on its website that it “is proud to have helped an impressive array of Democratic candidates, ballot measure efforts, bonds and levies, issue advocates, labor unions, and corporate and nonprofit clients meet their goals.”)

The poll also showed support decreasing 3 points to 50 percent in the same period. 

Dan McGrath
Dan McGrath

But Dan McGrath, who’s running the pro-voting amendment campaign, said internal polling results his camp received today show “very different” results than what the anti-amendment coalition has released.

McGrath said he’d seen a copy of his opponents’ poll memo, which was emailed to supporters on Friday, but declined to share the specifics of his group’s polling data.

“They released this one to give a push” to their campaign,” McGrath said. “That’s the only reason that they’ve released it.”

Greta Bergstrom, a spokeswoman for the coalition, denied releasing the internal poll as a campaign tactic.

“We have to track our results, and we’re liking what we see,” she said of the poll, which surveyed 500 voters between Oct. 29 and Oct. 30 and had a 4.4 percent margin of error.

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“At the end of every campaign, everyone is trying to put their best foot forward … I think the reality is as we walk into the final three days of this thing, including Election Day, we have the ability to close this race out and hold them under the majority that they need, and I think we’re going to do it,” Bergstrom said. “It is cautious optimism.”

McGrath, for his part, said he believes the vote-yes campaign can hold its ground.

“We’ve got our own operations going on, of course, and we’ve got a lot of messaging out there to counteract their lies.”

The voting amendment would require a photo ID at the polls and could significantly alter Minnesota’s election system. In Minnesota, a constitutional amendment must pass with more than 50 percent support of total ballots cast, and blank votes count as a “no.”

 Most important to the Our Vote Our Future coalition, many of those surveyed in the poll reported “soft” support or opposition to the amendment, meaning that they could still be swayed through grass-roots campaign efforts before Tuesday’s vote.

According to a memo that detailed poll results, the greatest movement came from women, Democrats and independents under age 50, as well as voters living in suburban and rural areas.

The 80-organization coalition – which features such progressive grass-roots organizing heavyweights as Take Action Minnesota – has been out in full force for months campaigning against the amendment.

Bergstrom said the effort has reached hundreds of thousands of voters.

Greta Bergstrom
Greta Bergstrom

“As we are closing this race down and as we have statewide phone banks and door knocks going on throughout the weekend until 8 p.m. Election Night, this thing can swing our way because support is soft,” she said in an interview Friday afternoon.

 Take Action is just one group that has regularly scheduled phone banks many nights of the week, and the Our Vote Our Future campaign has raised more than $2.6 million in cash and in-kind contributions. It is also heavily union-endorsed and took in $500,000 from George Soros-backed Open Society Policy Center.

Protect My Vote, the main organization supporting the voting amendment, raised $1.5 million. Roughly $1.3 million of the group’s contributions, which has run a more barebones campaign, came from Joan Cummins, wife of conservative benefactor Robert Cummins.

Voting amendment supporters have seen diminishing support in polls as Election Day has approached. What was once roughly 80 percent approval for the amendment had fallen to 54 percent support in mid-September, according to a report from Public Policy Polling on Sept.12.

 A KSTP-SurveyUSA poll released on Oct. 31 showed 55 percent support to 40 percent opposition.