Poll Finds Increased Support for Proposition To Fund Stem Cell Research
About 46% of voters support Proposition 71, an initiative on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot that would fund stem cell research, and 39% oppose it, according to a Field Poll survey released Sunday, the Sacramento Bee reports (Mecoy , Sacramento Bee, 10/10). In a Field Poll released in August, 45% of respondents said they supported the measure, 42% said they opposed it and 13% were undecided.
Proposition 71 would issue state bonds to raise an average of $295 million annually over a decade to promote stem cell research and provide funds for a new stem cell research center at a University of California campus, as well as grants and loans for laboratory projects at other colleges. State analysts say the measure would cost a total of $6 billion, including interest (California Healthline, 8/16).
For the telephone survey conducted Sept. 24 through 29, Field Poll interviewed 549 state residents likely to vote in November. About 50% of respondents said they had seen or heard something about the measure, a 10% increase from the August poll (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/10). The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.
More than 20% of respondents said they had seen or heard television or radio advertisements about Proposition 71. The ads began airing Sept. 24. Of those who knew about the measure prior to the survey, 58% supported it, compared with 34% who opposed it (Mecoy , Sacramento Bee, 10/10). Among respondents who were unaware of the initiative before the survey, 34% supported it, compared with 45% who opposed it.
Of respondents who supported the measure, 56% said they thought it would lead to more medical research, and 40% said it would help find cures for diseases and save lives. Both reasons are themes of the ad campaign run by "Yes on Proposition 71."
Of those who opposed the measure, 26% said they oppose abortion and the use of stem cells from aborted fetuses, while 20% said the measure would create more debt than the state can afford. About 13% said the measure would move the state closer to human cloning, and 10% said they disapproved of it because "scientists shouldn't be playing God," the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Lucas, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/10). In addition, 13% said they thought private investors should pay for the research.
Mark DiCamillo, director of Field Poll, said, "When you make the argument for Proposition 71 and make it known to the voters, it seems to be moving them to the 'yes' side. That bodes well for passage."
Wayne Johnson, a consultant for the campaign opposing Proposition 71, said, "These are outstanding numbers for us," adding, "Now is when [supporters of the measure] should be getting out front. You can't turn on the television without seeing their spots."
The "Yes on Proposition 71" campaign has raised more than $20 million and has already spent "substantial sums" on broadcast time for its ads, the Bee reports. Meanwhile, opponents have raised less than $150,000, and they are spreading their message via talk radio, news accounts, churches and the Internet (Mecoy , Sacramento Bee, 10/10).
The Field Poll is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to access the poll.
Supporters and opponents of Proposition 71 are lobbying Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) for his support, the Sacramento Bee reports. According to the Bee, Schwarzenegger has expressed support for embryonic stem cell research but "frets about the state going deeper into debt" if Proposition 71 is approved. The governor has said he would take a public position on Proposition 71, the Bee reports (Smith, Sacramento Bee, 10/9).
Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown (D) on Tuesday will hold a forum to address stem cell research, the first "major" event sponsored by the Willie L. Brown Jr. Institute on Politics and Public Service, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The invitation-only event will address science, economics, morals and ethics and law as they relate to stem cell research.
Guests invited to attend the symposium include former Secretary of State George Schultz, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks), University of California-San Francisco scientist Arnold Kriegstein, Dr. Lawrence Goldstein of UC-San Diego, Prof. Hank Greely of Stanford University and Jennifer Lahl, national director of the Center for Bioethics and Culture.
Brown said, "We're not dealing with the issue politically. We're dealing with it substantively." He added, "The issue of stem cell research is complicated, and I'm hoping that people on all sides of the issue can reach an accord and the process of research can go forward" (Gordon, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12).
The Sacramento Bee on Sunday examined the $6 billion price of the bond, which would "dwarf spending on any other American embryonic stem cell initiative," as well as the constitutional precedent it could set by allowing scientists to research and replicate cells through therapeutic cloning (Mecoy , Sacramento Bee, 10/10).
Additional information on Proposition 71 is available online.