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November 03, 2004

Polls and voter sentiment

The fate of the various state ballot measures shows either how mercurial voter sentiment can be, or how unreliable polls can be -- take your pick. A couple of weeks ago both Florida's Amendment 3 and California's Proposition 64 were trailing badly, yet both won convincing victories yesterday (the latter, of course, with more than a little help from popular Gov. Schwarzenegger). The Florida turnaround is especially noteworthy because the measure had initially led among voters and then had fallen behind after huge ad buys by trial lawyers; pundits who watch the initiative process sometimes say that once a measure slumps in the polls that way, it almost never comes back.

Meanwhile the Oregon med-mal measure, which did poll strongly enough to look like it might be a comfortable winner, didn't prove so. An article in this morning's Salem Statesman-Journal says trial lawyers are confident the close vote on Measure 35 will break in their favor because many of the yet-unreported precincts are from Multnomah County (Portland), where the "no" side has racked up big margins.

At least the Nevada polls proved an accurate predictor of the outcome.

Posted by Walter Olson at 11:17 AM | TrackBack (0)




Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.