After staying on the sidelines while Rollie Heath and the Gary-Williams Energy Corp paid to get the $3 billion tax hike on the November 2011 ballot, the Colorado Education Association (CEA) has now decided to endorse the initiative. No suprise there. When has the CEA ever opposed higher taxes?
At the same time the CEA decided to skittishly endorse the tax hike initiative, without any promise of cash or meaningful backing, a poll shows the initiative is destined to fail.
Despite a massively skewed sample, Public Policy Polling released results (PDF) last week showing Rollie Heath's tax hike support under water with only 45% in support and 47% opposed to having their taxes raised in a recession. The poll used a 41-33 Democrat/Republican sample despite active party registration in Colorado being 38-33 Republican/Democrat and total party registration being almost exactly the same at 32.5%.
If you were to weight the sample according to real political party registration numbers, you'd see the initiative even deeper under water. Even taking the skewed sample, the poll shows the initiative in peril. Legalization of marijuana holds a six point advantage in support. When an initiative polls below the legalization of illicit substances, you can count on it going down in defeat.
More importantly, an initiative that starts below 50% support is almost certain to stay below that crucial line. Voters in Colorado are generally inclined to vote against initiatives unless given a strong and persuasive reason to vote in support.
Independent studies showing up to 119,700 jobs could be lost if the initiative passes are not likely to help make that argument.
To get a sense of how education spending initiatives have fared in recent history, look no further than Amendment 59 in 2008. Shortly before the election, Amendment 59 had 41% support to 38% opposition in a Mason-Dixon poll, nearly $2 million spent in support and it still went down in defeat 45-55.
And off year elections like 2011 are likely to be made up of an electorate far less liberal than 2008.
Even when polling mostly Democrats, PPP couldn't find support for Rollie's boneheaded and job-killing tax hike.
But losing candidates and issues have become almost a cause celebre for the CEA recently. Just ask Chris Romer and opponents of education reform bill SB 191.
Which is why we don't find it shocking at all that the CEA is supporting Rollie’s tax hike. They love higher taxes and losing elections.