Lansing — Voters are increasingly skeptical of Michigan’s six ballot proposals as they wade through a flood of political advertising in the run-up to the Nov. 6 election, a Detroit News/WDIV Local 4 poll shows.
Opposition increased over the past month for proposals on collective bargaining, renewable energy, tax restraint and international bridges as “no” campaigns begin to take root with early absentee voting under way.
“Without really telling people the truth, really these are just special interest things … a very limited number of people trying to tie the hands of the Legislature,” said Wendell Peterson, a Monroe County retiree.
Peterson mailed his absentee ballot Thursday, voting “no” on the five constitutional amendments.
Proposal 4 to regulate home health care workers and give them limited collective bargaining rights is the only proposal with support above 50 percent, which experts say is the benchmark needed to have a shot at passing in November.
Groups seeking passage or defeat of four of the proposals have spent $30 million since August in broadcast and cable TV ads, according to new spending data tracked by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.
In the new poll of 600 likely voters, respondents were virtually tied on Proposal 2 to enshrine collective bargaining in the state constitution, and Proposal 6, the measure to require voter approval for new publicly owned international bridges and tunnels.
Both measures are winning, but by margins so slim they’re within the survey’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points — 43.2 percent to 41.8 percent on the union-backed Proposal 2, and 45.3 percent to 43.2 percent on Proposal 6.
Nearly $13 million has been spent since August by both sides in the Proposal 2 unions vs. business battle.
Protect Working Families, a coalition of labor unions seeking passage of Proposal 2, spent $6.4 million on cable and broadcast TV, according to MCFN.
Protect Michigan Taxpayers and Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution, two opposition groups funded by business interests, topped the unions with $6.6 million in combined spending.
“The more voters learn about Proposal 2, the less they like it,” said Nick De Leeuw, spokesman for the business groups.
Dan Lijana, spokesman for Protect Working Families, called the opposition ads “scare tactics” and predicted voters won’t be “fooled.”
“The only poll that matters is the one that is on election day,” he said.
Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun’s Detroit International Bridge Co. has spent $5.1 million since the Aug. 7 primary urging passage of Proposal 6 to require voter approval for building new publicly owned bridges and tunnels to Canada.
The latest Moroun ad blitz is on top of $3 million the bridge company spent earlier this year seeking to derail Gov. Rick Snyder’s pursuit of a new Canadian-financed span from southwest Detroit to Windsor. “The more people look into it, the more they realize that there is not a free bridge,” said Mickey Blashfield, director of Moroun’s the People Should Decide campaign.
A Proposal 6 opposition group called Taxpayers Against Monopolies has struggled to generate donations from business and union interests that support a new bridge to Canada because those groups are pouring their money into the Proposal 2 battle.
“The problem is all of the business community is focused on (Proposal) 2,” said Tom Shields, spokesman for Taxpayers Against Monopolies. “We’re competing with that.”
Proposal 1 gains support
Proposal 1, a referendum on the emergency manager law championed by Snyder, was the only initiative to gain support from September to October in the poll. The measure has 43 percent support and 35.8 percent opposition, nearly a statistical flip-flop from September, when the measure was failing by 35.7 percent to 46.3 percent.
“It tells me people probably are looking at these proposals separately, rather than collectively,” pollster Richard Czuba said.
The Proposal 3 debate over whether to require utility companies to generate 25 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2025 is generating the second-most spending.
A group partially funded by utility companies DTE Energy and Consumers Energy spent $5.7 million in the past two months on TV ads casting doubt on the cost to consumers of requiring the state’s utilities to generate 25 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2025.
Clean Affordable Renewable Energy for Michigan outspent the proponents, Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs, by $2.7 million over the past two months, while support for the measure fell from 49.3 percent in September to 39.7 percent in the early October survey. The new poll shows 44.7 percent oppose Proposal 3.
Proposal 5 backing slides
Support for Proposal 5, which seeks a two-thirds voting threshold for the Legislature to raise taxes, slid from an August survey that found 68 percent support to 37.7 percent in the new poll.
Glengariff Group used live telephone operators Saturday through Monday.