Here's some bad news for Colorado Springs city government: More than 22 percent of the city's likely voters believe that President Barack Obama was born outside the United States.
Another 18 percent are "unsure," adding up to 40 percent of Springs residents with doubts regarding Obama's eligibility for the presidency.
"Birthers" are also much more likely to vote no on question 2C, the city's request for a property tax hike, and yes on question 300, anti-taxer Douglas Bruce's attempt to sever financial connections between the city and its enterprises.
However, according to a poll of 400 likely voters last week commissioned by the Independent and conducted by Luce Research, the far-right conspiracy theorists are hardly alone in how they view this season's local ballot issues. Though 44.6 percent of the voting public at large said the Springs is going the wrong way (compared to 32.5 percent that said it was moving in a positive direction), most don't seem motivated to initiate change at the ballot box. Citizens of every stripe plan to trample 2C in the November mail ballot election; 300 appears to be losing but could go either way.
Of those who say they plan on voting by Nov. 3, 51.9 percent say they'll vote no on 2C, with only 29.3 percent planning to vote yes, and 10.8 percent unsure. Meanwhile, 28.9 percent plan to vote for 300, while 33.8 percent say they'll vote against. Almost a third of voters — 29.9 percent — aren't sure.
City Councilor Jan Martin, who came up with 2C, says she's still crossing her fingers that her measure can win. If passed, 2C would prevent massive cuts in the city budget, likely including the elimination of nearly 250 positions, the closing of community centers, pools and the Pioneers Museum, and the loss of more than 60,000 hours of bus service.
"We knew it was an uphill battle due to the local economy and Colorado Springs' reluctance to vote on any new taxes," Martin says. "But the important thing is people still have a choice of what quality of life and city services they want in 2010 ... I still haven't given up hope. I do feel that we've worked very hard to create a grassroots movement that we hope will bring out people who do not normally vote in an off-season election like this."
Her colleague, Councilor Scott Hente, feels less hopeful about 2C. And he's seriously concerned about the fate of 300. If passed, 300 would create additional massive budget shortfalls for the city, and Hente says he doesn't think many voters recognize its implications.
"I think some [voters] are going to not vote at all," Hente says, "because they don't understand it."
Gender and age are influencing voters' behavior. Women are 8.2 percent more likely than men to vote yes on 2C and 6.4 percent more likely to vote no on 300. Men and women ages 18 to 29, and over 65, are less likely than their middle-aged counterparts to support 2C. All age groups in the poll are narrowly defeating 300, except the 65-plus group, which showed a tie between yes and no votes.
City officials aren't the only ones with a challenge in this election. Responses suggest very few have taken an interest in school board elections. In fact, only 9.5 percent of voters say they support a specific candidate in the board races, while 86 percent have no preferences.
"Well, that's interesting," says a surprised Chyrese Exline, a School District 11 candidate, when told of the results. "It's sad, because that means nobody's caring about education the way they should be."
About the poll
The Oct. 13-18 poll surveyed 400 "active voters" the week that mail-in ballots were sent. We defined an "active voter" as a Colorado Springs adult who cast a ballot in the November 2008 general election and/or the April 2009 municipal election. More than 85 percent of those surveyed say they plan to vote in this election.
The poll was conducted by Luce Research, a national survey company based in Colorado Springs. We controlled gender and age ratios to ensure an accurate representation of the local voting community. Within those demographic categories, individuals were called randomly at the numbers on their voter registration forms.
In theory, in 19 cases out of 20, our findings will differ by no more than 4.9 percent in either direction from the results had every eligible Colorado Springs voter been surveyed, according to Todd Luce.
Indy cheat sheet:
2009 coordinated mail-ballot election
Measure 2C (property tax increase): YES
Measure 300 (city enterprise payment): AGAINST
Local school boards
District 2: Deborah Hendrix, Richard Price, Linda Pugh
District 11: Chyrese Exline, Sandra Mann, LuAnn Long
District 20: Doug Lundberg, Tracey Johnson, Linda Van Matre
District 49: Tammy Harold, Jackie Vialpando, Jon Rowley
Mayor: Marc Snyder
Council, Ward 3: Matt Carpenter