Exclusive survey shows most voters in favor of consolidated - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Exclusive survey shows most voters in favor of consolidated schools

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A survey shared exclusively with Action News 5 revealed Sunday that Memphis voters will most likely choose to transfer the city school system to Shelby County.

Caissa Public Strategy CEO Brian Stephens said his firm was conducting a massive survey that had nothing to do with schools, so they decided to tag on some Memphis schools charter referendum questions.

"Are you for or against or undecided regarding the transfer of Memphis City Schools to Shelby County Schools?" asked Stephens.  "We also asked them how well informed they were."

They posed the questions to 500 registered voters within the Memphis city limits who said they plan to vote on the school charter referendum March 8.  Their answers reveal a great deal about the undercurrents of the historic vote based on race, income, and gender.

Stephens said the most striking discovery was how well-informed Memphians were about the issue.

"Over 76 percent of the people said they had some knowledge of what was going on," said Stephens.  "Over 50 percent said that they were well informed on the issue.  That's pretty impactful."

In the end, the survey found 56.2 percent support transferring city schools to the county, while 26.2 percent are against it and 17.6 percent are undecided.

The outcome of the survey might seem like a shoe-in for supporters of the school merger, but Stephens said it is easier to change voters' minds in issue campaigns versus candidate campaigns.

"People will move more readily," he said.  "They'll move off of 'yes' to 'no.'  Off of 'no' to 'yes.'  And the undecided really wait until the end to break one way or the other."

The survey found that whites and people with higher incomes were slightly more in favor of the schools transfer than African Americans and people with lower incomes.  More women and people with lower incomes were undecided than men and people with higher incomes.

With a margin of error of 4.3 percent, Stephens said this vote is too close to call.

"Based on these findings, it favors the people that are for one school system," said Stephens.  "But I'd still characterize this as anybody's game and whoever puts on the best campaign and gets their people out are going to win this.  It's still too close to call."

Another poll released by the Commercial Appeal Sunday had 48 percent in favor of the schools transfer, 38 percent against it and 14 percent undecided.  According to the paper, that poll was specifically targeted to the referendum and they surveyed fewer people than Caissa Public Strategy.

To read the Cassia Public Strategy survey, click here.

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