2008: Poll: Florida gay-marriage ban likely to pass / Miami Herald

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Poll: Florida gay-marriage ban likely to pass
Posted on Wed, Oct. 08, 2008
Florida voters look close to passing a gay-marriage ban and rejecting a community college tax and are largely undecided about a handful of property-tax issues, according to a new statewide poll concerning the state’s proposed constitutional amendments.

Regardless of the topic, there’s a common theme in voters’ preferences: Simplicity, said Brad Coker, pollster for Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. Voters have clear opinions about those amendments that are relatively easy to understand or that have simple titles or buzzwords.
So the ”Florida Marriage Protection Amendment” garners wide support — 55 percent in support; 34 percent opposed. And the amendment that would allow local communities to raise the sales tax to help pay for community college is losing by a 37 to 40 percent margin.
‘In Florida, `tax’ is no longer a three letter word,” said Coker. “It’s a four letter word.”
Yet the poll shows that the electorate doesn’t seem to have a strong preference for the amendments that would actually give homeowners or businesses a potential property tax cut. And that’s because of the complexity of the amendments, Coker said.
• The amendment to prohibit tax assessment increases for someone who adds hurricane shutters or solar panels is leading by a 29 to 26 percent margin. Undecided: 45 percent. • The amendment to give a tax break to those who agree to set aside conservation lands is leading by 37 to 19 percent. Undecided: 44 percent.
• The amendment to help shield marina owners from big tax-assessment increases leads 33 to 20 percent. Undecided: 47 percent.
However, because it takes a 60 percent vote to approve a constitutional amendment, the property-tax plans could pass if the undecided voters don’t cast a ballot on thoseissues and if support continues to outpace opposition by a ratio of 3 to 2.
Coker, though, said he expected undecided voters will likely cast a ballot in favor of the gay-marriage amendment, thereby supplying it with the additional 5 percentage points it needs to pass.
”The undecideds always seem to break more strongly toward sort of the more anti-gay side of the issue,” Coker said.
But not if Florida Red & Blue can help it. The group plans to run an ad painting the amendment as ”vague” and a threat to domestic-partner benefits, even for heterosexual seniors. Supporters of Amendment 2 say that’s a scare tactic.
Gov. Charlie Crist said he supports defining marriage ”between one man and one woman.” Yet Crist said he’s staying out of all the amendment fights because “I’ve got my hands pretty full as it is.”

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