Original URL: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/election/article/0,1299,DRMN_36_1474860,00.html
Bilingual education measure losing favor
Latest poll shows Amendment 31 'not likely to pass'
By Nancy Mitchell, Rocky Mountain News
October 12, 2002
A proposal changing how Colorado schools teach children who speak little English
is apparently losing favor with some voters.
More people still support than oppose Amendment 31, 48 percent to 36 percent,
new poll results show. But support for the initiative, which would require that
English learners spend no more than a year in English immersion before joining
mainstream classes, has dropped 20 points since a similar survey was conducted
"To slip that much in three months, I would say it's only got a 50-50 shot
of passing at this point," said pollster Paul Talmey. "Unless the other side
comes up with an awfully good campaign, it's not likely to pass."
The poll, conducted for the Rocky Mountain News and News4 by Talmey-Drake
Research & Strategy Inc. of Boulder, shows that another 14 percent are undecided
on the issue and 2 percent refused to answer.
Ron Unz, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur who wrote Amendment 31, blames the drop
on an advertising blitz begun late last month by the No on 31 campaign.
"In some ways, it's amazing we're still ahead, theoretically, in this poll," Unz
said. "We still hope we can win, but it's going to be a very tough battle."
A $3 million gift to the No campaign from Fort Collins philanthropist Patricia
Stryker is funding a TV ad campaign that began Sept. 28. The Talmey-Drake poll,
which has a 4.4 percent plus-or-minus margin of error, surveyed 500 registered
voters Oct. 3-9.
Unz said a response to the No ad campaign will begin "very soon, in as little as
a few days."
"We're actually trying to raise money, and we'll certainly be running our own
commercials," he said. "We have some money in hand, and we're trying to raise
But Gully Stanford, co-chairman of English Plus, the group running No on 31,
said the drop in the polls is about more than money. He points to recent
endorsements of the No campaign, such as Gov. Bill Owens' public stance against
"The fact that we have been able to purchase advertising means that we have been
able to broadcast our message," Stanford said. "People are responding to our
message, not the money."
The new poll results are "good news, but we've got a lot of work to do," said
English Plus strategist John Britz.
He said No on 31 officials fully expected Unz to respond with an ad campaign.
"We're staying on message," Britz said. "We'll see what happens."