Newly released poll offers insight into charter surrender vote - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Newly released poll offers insight into charter surrender vote

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MEMPHIS, TN -

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - After months of confusion, lawsuits and political wrangling, the fight to surrender the Memphis City Schools charter is less than 24 hours away.  Monday, a newly released poll suggested what the charter surrender's outcome may be.

Market researcher Berje Yacoubian said most early voters in his new Memphis Commercial Appeal Memphis City Schools charter surrender poll favor a school merger.

"It was a very healthy vote using the same racial patterns as the voter registration list," Yacoubian said.

A snapshot of all of Memphis' nearly 423,000 voters shows 43.5 percent are African American, 22.8 percent are white and 33.6 percent are other ethnicities.  Data from the Shelby County Election Commission shows 50.8 percent of early voters were African American, while 26.6 were white and 22.7 percent were other ethniticies.

"What struck me is how different the early voters were from the ones who are left and plan to vote," Yacoubian said.

According to Yacoubian, African American male early voters support the merger, while white male early voters are against it.  But white male referendum day voters support the merger, and African American male referendum day voters do not.

Yacoubian said enough confusion has been created that the people who haven't voted yet are doubting if they should vote yes.

"When you're confused, you withhold your decision-making," he said.

Statistics from the Shelby County Election Commission show seven percent of Memphis' voters have already gone to the polls, which isn't bad considering the circumstances.

"It's a one-issue election," Yacoubian said. "It's a special election. It's the middle of winter."

Yacoubian said most people who have already voted have a relative in Memphis City Schools, and African Americans are particularly motivated to vote Tuesday.

"The data indicated there may be a healthy turnout," he said.

When it comes down to gender, female early voters outnumbered males by two thirds.

Yacoubian said younger voters favor the merger, older voters do not.

Yacoubian's poll consisted of 412 registered, Memphis voters, and has a margin of error of plus or minus five.

MCS Charter Referendum - Early Voting
SOURCE: Shelby County Election Commission

Black:          184,054 (43.5%)
White:         96,588 (22.8%)
Other:         142,320 (33.6%)
Total:          422,962

MCS Charter Referendum - Early Voting
SOURCE: Shelby County Election Commission

Total Voters: 422,962
Early Voters: 29,673 (7%)

MCS Charter Referendum - Early Voting
SOURCE: Shelby County Election Commission

Black:          15,060 (50.8%)
White:         7,883 (26.6%)
Other:          6,730 (22.7%)

MCS Charter Referendum - Early Voting
SOURCE: Shelby County Election Commission

Male:           11,579 (39.0%)
Female:        18,094 (61.0%)


HOW WILL THEY VOTE?

In Yacoubian's poll, 44.2 percent said they'll vote "YES" to transfer city schools to the county. With all the "NOs," undecided voters, and the plus or minus five margin of error, Yacoubian still believes the charter surrender will pass.

"It may not pass 60-40, but it will pass fairly comfortably," he said.

Yacoubian said quality of schools is the strongest predictor of how the vote will go. 42.5 percent of people polled believe the transfer will improve schools.

"The reason the charter surrender is likely to pass is there are twice as many people who think if the charter surrender comes about, the overall quality of MCS will improve rather than get worse," he said.

On money spent, those who believe the cost will increase or stay the same are dead even.

"People don't want less money spent on city and county schools, and if they think a merger is going to cause less money to be spent on city and county schools, they're going to vote against it," Yacoubian said.

Most voters think Memphis City taxes will go up, but Yacoubian says that's misinformation.

"Most experts that I have heard don't agree with that," he said.

Finally, the poll shows lukewarm approval of Dr. Kriner Cash's job performance as Memphis City Schools superintendent.

"The most distressing part is that people who either attended MCS or have children who now attend MCS are more critical of him than those who do not have children in MCS," Yacoubian said.

MCS Charter Surrender Poll
SOURCE: Commercial Appeal/Yacoubian
How would you vote?

For transfer               44.2%
Against Transfer      37.9.%  
Not sure                     15.5%
Wouldn't Say              2.4%

MCS Charter Surrender Poll
SOURCE: Commercial Appeal/Yacoubian
If SCS Board Takes Over

Improve          42.5%
Get worse     19.9%
Not change   26.9%
Not sure        10.7%

MCS Charter Surrender Poll
SOURCE: Commercial Appeal/Yacoubian
Effect on Money

Increase                         36.2%
Decrease                      13.6%
Stay about the same     36.2%
Not sure                         14.1%

MCS Charter Surrender Poll
SOURCE: Commercial Appeal/Yacoubian
Memphis City Taxes

Go up                    52.4%
Come down         14.3%  
Stay the same      24.5%
Not sure                  8.7%

MCS Charter Surrender Poll
SOURCE: Commercial Appeal/Yacoubian
Dr. Kriner Cash Job Performance

Excellent               7.8%
About average     21.8%
Average               33.3%
Below average    12.1%
Poor                      15.5%
Not sure                  9.5%

Copyright 2011 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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