Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bond Poll Results


The public is still waiting with baited breath for the release of the CARE public opinion poll on the $350 million bond issue conducted last month. True, the as yet unknown persons who funded the poll aren't required to share the results with the rest of the world. It does seem odd that CARE, or whoever, wouldn't be sharing the overwhelmingly positive poll results with the Eagle and public at large.

So, in lieu of talking about the CARE polling data, we are left with the results of a KWCH/SurveyUSA poll conducted on July 15th.

The first question, how much of an impact will gas prices and the economy have on the respondent's bond vote, sets the tone for the poll. 68% of respondents noted that it would impact their vote. It might be going out on a limb, albeit a very sturdy one, to assume that the slowing economy will make voters less likely to vote for higher taxes.

The second question isn't so black and white: "Should the vote be delayed until the economy improves?" The response was clearly that the vote should be delayed, 49% to 44%. However, this shouldn't be used as an indicator of overall support for the bond itself. Some bond supporters can clearly see that $350 million is a tough sell in a slowing economy and want a delay. Similarly, bond opponents may not want any further delays.

The third question gets to the heart of the matter: "Should the bond issue be scaled down in order to get it passed?". Again, 49% of respondents replied in the affirmative, while only 41% didn't believe the proposal should be scaled back. Both conservatives and liberals overwhelmingly (53% and 49% respectively) saw the need to scale the proposal back, although one would assume for different reasons.

The results are surprising, if the pro-bond groups are to be believed. The USD 259 website is chock full of claims that the entire community had input and is clamoring for a $350 million bond issue. CARE has had an additional 3 months to educate the public about the virtues of the bond plan.

What remains to be seen is if CARE/SJCF will propose that the school board proceed with the original bloated bond plan, submit a new proposal that nibbles around the edges, completely retools the proposal to address the real issues in the district, or suggests shelving the idea all together. Considering the money and egos involved, I'm guessing they won't concern themselves with something as insignificant as polling data.

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