Some initial polls on Proposition 71 (the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative) have surfaced:
If the November election were held now, 45 percent of likely voters would support Proposition 71, compared with 42 percent opposing it and 13 percent undecided, according to Field Poll results released today. It's the first Field Poll conducted on voters' attitudes toward the proposition.
The sharp division of opinion stems partly from voters' tendency to see the fight over Prop. 71 as a mirror of the larger U.S. presidential race, which is similarly marked by firmly held opinions with little wiggle room, said Mark DiCamillo, a veteran analyst for the Field Poll.
In the poll, pro-John Kerry Democrats support the stem cell initiative by a more than 2-to-1 ratio, while pro-George W. Bush Republicans are 2-to-1 in opposition, DiCamillo said.
There are also age, gender and educational divides, with voters younger than 40, women and college graduates likelier to support Prop. 71 than men and high school graduates. Forty-eight percent of women would vote yes on Prop. 71, while 36 percent would vote no; 48 percent of men would vote no and 43 percent yes.
"I thought the margin in favor of stem cell research would be a little higher. ... It's quite clear that it is highly contested at this point," said stem cell researcher Dr. Irving Weissman, a Stanford pathology professor who started a firm, Stem Cells Inc.
Fiona Hutton, a spokeswoman for the Yes on 71 campaign, said that "given the state's economic climate, this (poll result) is a good starting point for our campaign. We know that Americans overwhelmingly support stem cell research and believe in its potential to cure some of the most debilitating diseases and injuries.
"And as we educate voters about the positive impact of Prop. 71 in reducing California's crippling health care costs and improving and strengthening the economy," Hutton added, "we are confident support for the measure will continue to grow."
The Proposition 71 organization has a large pool of funds ($7 million at last count) and hasn't started in on serious advertising yet. We shall see how this turns out - if you want to make a difference, the initiative is asking for your help.