PI Original Angela Caputo Friday October 10th, 2008, 12:42pm

Con-Con Poll Tells Only Half The Story

It turns out that public support for a constitutional convention might not be as strong as some proponents would like you to think.

Yesterday we reported
on a newly released poll conducted in late September and commissioned by the group ConConYes. In a separate press ...

It turns out that public support for a constitutional convention might not be as strong as some proponents would like you to think.

Yesterday we reported on a newly released poll conducted in late September and commissioned by the group ConConYes.  In a separate press release, the group asserted that the poll "shows that nearly 60 percent of Illinois voters favor a constitutional convention giving citizens the opportunity to reform state government directly." In their memo on the poll, the group asserts that 58 percent of likely voters surveyed across the state said they would cast a ballot in favor of calling a convention. Another 21 percent said they're opposed to the idea, with 21 percent undecided. 

But that's only part of the story.

What the ConConYes folks failed to mention in both the memo and the press release is that when initially asked if they supported a convention, only 37 percent of respondents said yes, according to Capitol Fax's Rich Miller.  The numbers posted by Miller also show that 31 percent were opposed and another 33 percent unsure at the outset.

Miller further reports that the 58 percent result came only after the respondents had been asked nine message-testing polls "designed specifically to sway voter opinion in favor of the con-con vote." Here's an example:

If you knew that those opposed to calling a constitutional convention have donated more than $10 million to Governor Blagojevich and the Springfield politicians since 2002, would you be more likely or less likely to support a constitutional convention?

Meanwhile, the memo we received only listed two questions of this sort and no indication that a minority of respondents initially supported holding a convention.

Today, we asked to have a look at the full polling results, but were turned down. "Why should we give you all the questions?" responded ConConYes political consultant Mike Noonan, who stands by the memo originally released to Progress Illinois as "a fair snapshot" of public opinion.

Then why give Miller the full results? "Because every week he writes a column in support of Con-Con," Noonan said.

CORRECTION: This post originally reported that the poll was conducted by Rasmussen Reports because that is what ConConYes' press release and memo stated.  They have now informed us that the survey was actually conducted by Pulse Opinion Research.

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