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U-M Student Survey Predicted Victory For Mayor Harris

U-M Student Survey Predicted Victory For Mayor Harris image
Parent Issue
Day
6
Month
May
Year
1971
Copyright
Copyright Protected
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Donated by the Ann Arbor News. © The Ann Arbor News.
OCR Text

Political candidates rarely have any way of knowing how much impact their campaigns actually have on election results. Evidence that Ann Arbor's ■ April 5 election was measurably influenced by the campaign efforts of Mayor Robert J. Harris and his opponent, Jack J. Garrís, has been provided by a University political science class. The class, directed by Assistant Prof. Herbert F. Weisberg, held interviews in late March with 128 local Iresidents picked at random Ifrom -the city's list of regisItered voters. Questions were lasked about the then-pending election and about several local, state and national problems that are still live issues. : Weisberg reports that the survey results, tabula ted on I election eve but not made public at that time, show that "of the 107 individuals stating a preference between Mayor Harris and Jack Garris, 64 per cent indicated they were planning to vote for Harris. "Given the margin for error, we were quite certain that Harris would win with at least 54 per cent of the I vote . . . "Mayor Harris was reelected with 59 per cent of the vote." By comparison, a survey sponsored by the Ann Arbor Democratie Committee i f f y f. immediately alter the Feb. V primary election showed 27 jer cent undecided and the iest evenly divided between Harris and Garrís. That survey contacted approximately 175 local residents picked randomly from the city's voter list. The survey by Weisberg's class was designed to do more than produce an election prediction. His 55 students wrote analyses of data from a variety of questions, which Weisberg summarizes in these terms : "College educated people were much more likely to support Harris than were those without a college education. Younger voters supported Harris more than older voters. Renters supported Harris more than those who own or are buying a house. Individuals who consider themselves middle-class favored Harris more than those considering themselves working-class. Long-time Ann Arbor residents supported Garrís more than did people who have lived in Ann Arbor for less than 20 years. Weisberg notes evidence in the survey that Harris won votes on April 5 from "many" who backed Louis D. Belcher in the GOP primary election and even from "some" who voted for Garrís in the primary. This leads to the self-evident conclusión that "Garrís did not run a attract many potentia Repubhcan votes " But beyond this, Weisberg sees signs that the April f resulte reflected more 'han reactions by voters to these Particular candidates "Seven years ago," Weisberg recalls, "Prof. (M Kent) Jennings' public opin-' ion course found that 38 per cent of Ann Arbor voters LLiKepuWicansjiUocal pol! itics, 29 per cent Democrats, and 33 per cent independente. "This year's survey found that 28 per cent considered themselves Republicans in local politics, 33 per cent Democrats, and 39 per . cent independents. "These are small differences based on small numbers of interviews, but these and other data on Ann Arbor suggest that the Republicans have been losing strength over the years. These figures indícate that the Democrats i have not gained as much as the Republicans have lost. There has been a growth in the number of people who consider themselves independents ..." . If other words, the I lican success in winning a I majority of one on City I cil at the same time Mayor I Harris was re-elected is not necessarily a measure of lasting party strength. Other issues dealt with in the study, and the conclusions drawn by Weisberg and his studenls, hicluded: - Shopping areas: "Briarwood (the proposed Hudson'sSears-Penny's regional shopping center at S. State and 1-94) was approved by 56 per cent of the sample. "As to its effects, only 28 per cent feit Briarwood would have much effect on how often they shopped downtown Asked what they liked least about shopping downtown, 56 per cent of the registered voters mentioned parking, 22 per cent complained about the stores, 12 per cent responded that there was nothing they disliked about downtown, and I six per cent stated that they I never shopped there." - City - University relations: Sixty per cent of those expressiríg an opinión feit t h a t University students going to school here nine months a year should have a right to vote in Ann Arbor . . . Nearly everyone feit college students should be allowed to sign petitions, and two-thirds feit they should be allowed to have boycotts and strikes. Nearly everyone stated that peaceful marches and demonstrations on campus should be allowed, and 80 per cent feit they should be allowed off campus. But 31 per cent feit that students should be allowed to do ariything they want so long as there is no violence. Last year's BAM strike (a boycott of U-M classis led by the Black Action Movement) was approved by 36 per cent of those who remembered it, and the University's handling of the strike was approved by 44 per cent." - Abortion: "Only 13 per cent favored an extremely restrictive policy- no abortions or abortions only when the mother's life is at stake. Men and women did not differ in their answers on abortion, but there were educational and religious differences. "Sixty-nine per cent of those with college education favored abortion on demand compared to only 26 per cent of those without college education. Ninety-six per cent of those without a religious preference, 73 per cent of the Jews in the sample, half of the Protestants, and 46 per cent of the Catholics favored abortion on demand. Only 31 per cent of the Catholics gave answers completely opposed to abortion ..." - Tax policy: "About threequarters of the sample favored the income tax over the property tax for city revenue . . . One-half of the sample favored Governor Milliken's proposal for a 1 per cent state income tax raise, and two-thirds of the sample favored a rise in the income tax rather than a raise in the state sales tax." - The Indochina war: "Fifty-per cent of the sample mentioned Vietnam as the most important problem facing the country. Immediate withdrawal was favored as a solution to the Vietnam problem by one-third of the sample, withdrawal within a year by another 40 per cent, the present policy by only 14 per I cent, and a policy of military I victory by only three per! cent. I - National priorities: I "More spending was desired I on pollution control by 85 per I cent of the sample, education I by 79 per cent, and law I enforcement by 64 per cent; I less spending was desired on I national defense by 70 per I cent and on the space program by 68 per cent. Most people (67 per cent) favored the present amount of spending or more on welfare, and the present amount of spending or less on foreign aid was urged by 76 per cent." Weisberg estimates that all I percentages are within 10 per cent of the figures that would I be obtained if all registered voters in Ann A r b o r I