Miami-Dade voters appear ready to impose term limits on county commissioners, finance improvements to public school facilities and pay extra taxes to protect stray pets — but they don’t want to pay for a new roof on the Miami Dolphins’ stadium, according to a Miami Herald poll.
President Barack Obama, while besting Republican challenger Mitt Romney, also seems to have significantly less support among county voters today than he had in 2008, when a double-digit win in Miami-Dade helped him carry Florida.
The Herald’s poll of 625 likely voters, conducted by Jacksonville-based Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, addressed a series of local issues, including several proposed amendments to the Miami-Dade charter included on the Nov. 6 ballot. The voters were also asked about their opinions on the Obama administration’s Cuba policies. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.
The poll, conducted Oct. 22-24, found that 61 percent of respondents approved of eight-year term limits for Miami-Dade commissioners, and only 13 percent were against the proposed restrictions, which must be enacted with a charter amendment approved by voters. More than one in four voters surveyed said they were undecided on term limits.
“The longer they stay, the more corrupt they become,” said Kenneth Hankin of Coral Gables, a term-limits supporter.
About 57 percent of those polled said they would approve $1.2 billion in general obligation bonds to pay for upgrades to Miami-Dade’s aging public school buildings. Only 19 percent of the voters were against the bonds, and 24 percent of the respondents were undecided.
Miami-Dade School Board member Raquel Regalado, who has been campaigning for the bond proposal, said she believes the plan has the support of most voters — but she worries the measure is buried too deep in the 10-page ballot.
“I think we have a very good chance,” Regalado said. “I think the hardest thing against us is not public opinion, it’s how long the ballot is.”
For several other ballot questions, the forecast is cloudier.
One proposed charter amendment asks Miami-Dade voters to approve new rules to make it easier for communities to seek county approval to incorporate as new cities. Only 33 percent of those surveyed said they support the new rules, while 22 percent opposed the changes — and 45 percent said they were undecided.
Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker said the high number of undecided voters suggests that voters don’t understand the issue or grasp the wordy ballot language. He suspects the charter amendment will fail.
Similarly, a proposal requiring a two-thirds vote of the county commission to expand the Urban Development Boundary limiting development in west Miami-Dade appears to have befuddled a large number of voters. The largest share of respondents, some 44 percent, said they were undecided on the issue, and only 37 percent said they supported the change. Nineteen percent of those polled opposed changing the UDB process.
Coker said the undecided voters are likely to skip these charter amendments altogether.
“This one is uphill,” Coker said of the UDB amendment.
Voters also will see nonbinding “straw ballot” questions to gauge public opinion on specific issues. For example, voters will be asked their opinion about a proposal, known as the Pets’ Trust, to increase the property-tax rate and set aside the additional revenue to pay for no-kill animal shelters, spay-and-neuter programs and other animal services. Some 55 percent of poll respondents said they supported a new animal-services tax, and 25 percent opposed it.