Poll: Michigan voters against abortion restrictions, gay marriage (Detroit News)
Published August 2, 2013, by The Detroit News.
By Chad Livengood, Detroit News Lansing Bureau.
Lansing— A majority of likely Michigan voters oppose efforts to require women to buy additional health insurance for abortion coverage and reject legalizing gay marriage, illustrating the complexity of social issues, according to a new statewide poll.
Right to Life of Michigan’s grassroots network of volunteers is collecting signatures this summer for a voter-initiated law that would prohibit health insurance companies from covering abortion procedures unless individuals buy additional coverage for terminating pregnancies.
At the same time, proponents of giving gay and lesbian couples the same rights to marry as heterosexual couples are planning a 2016 ballot initiative to undo the 2004 voter-approved constitutional ban on gay marriage.
A poll commissioned by the bipartisan public relations firm Lambert, Edwards & Associates found 50 percent of 600 likely voters oppose a proposed ban on abortion coverage for basic health insurance plans, while 42 percent support the initiative, which is designed to block taxpayer-subsidized private health insurance plans from covering abortions. But the gap is within the poll’s margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points.
The same poll found 51 percent of likely voters oppose having same-sex marriage brought up for a vote, while 42 percent support the move.
“I think part of this is people are sick and tired of government regulating social issues,” said pollster Dennis Denno, whose firm Denno Research conducted the survey.
On the question of whether they would support a constitutional amendment to allow gay marriage in Michigan, 52 percent of independent voters were opposed, Denno said. Independents are seen as crucial swing votes on divisive social issues.
“For those folks who want to put this on the ballot in three years, they need to win over those independent voters,” Denno said.
A Glengariff Group poll in May found 56.8 percent of Michigan voters said they would support gay marriage and 54 said they would undo the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
The mixed polling data comes as U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman considers a challenge to Michigan’s ban by a Hazel Park lesbian couple who want to jointly adopt each other’s children.
“Support for so-called homosexual marriage seems to rise when there’s no threat of it happening,” said Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan. “But then the numbers reverse and opposition goes up.”
Polling data on the abortion insurance coverage question also found weaknesses for proponents, who hope to bypass the 2014 ballot and get the Republican-controlled Legislature to approve the proposed abortion insurance law.
If Right to Life collects more than 258,000 valid voter signatures, the state Constitution allows the Legislature to approve the proposal and bypass Gov. Rick Snyder, who last year vetoed similar legislation.
The Lambert, Edwards/Denno Research polling on the abortion question, done exclusively for The Detroit News, found 57 percent of voters who identify as Republicans support such a ban, while 38 percent of GOP voters oppose the effort.
“It does not appear that there is significant statewide support for this legislation,” Denno said.
Ed Rivet, legislative director for Right to Life of Michigan, dismissed the poll results.
“This is a question about who pays for abortion, and when you put that question before voters, our experience all across the country is voters don’t want to pay for other people’s abortions,” Rivet said.
The poll sample included 36 percent Democrats and 34 percent Republicans, a sample size that skews slightly in the GOP’s favor because the 2014 mid-term election will likely turn out more Republican voters, Denno said.
About 26 percent of respondents said they strongly supported requiring individuals to get extra coverage for abortions or pay for the procedure out of pocket, while 33.8 percent were strongly opposed.
Rivet said individual voters may not get a say in the matter.
“We don’t expect this to go to the ballot because there’s substantial support for this in the Legislature,” he said.
Rivet also took issue with the wording of the poll question because it didn’t say the proposal would prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars for abortions, although Right to Life’s proposed law doesn’t mention such a prohibition.
Rivet said signature-gathering has been slow lately. But he expects the group will collect the required 258,088 voter signatures. Depending on when Right to Life submits its signatures, the Legislature could take up the issue this fall.
Since the 1963 constitution was adopted, the Legislature has approved four voter-initiated laws. Thirteen legislative initiatives have gone on the ballot and seven were approved, according to the state Bureau of Elections.
Women are divided on Right to Life’s proposal, with 44 percent supportive and 48 percent opposed — a four-percentage-point split that is within the poll’s margin of error.
Meghan Groen, director of government relations for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, the advocacy arm of the state’s largest abortion provider, said the issue would have higher opposition “when people really learn there’s no exceptions for rape, incest or severe fetal anomaly.”
Groen said she was not surprised by the 38 percent opposition among Republican voters, especially after Snyder and former Gov. John Engler vetoed similar laws.
“For the government to go in and tell employers what they can and cannot cover is really an intrusion in the marketplace, and you’ve had two Republican governors agree and vetoed it,” she said.
From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130802/POLITICS02/308020045#ixzz2aqEWMKAK
August 02, 2013