Charter Schools Gain Overwhelming Support With Georgia Voters

January 31, 2012

Major Findings:

1) Just last week, McLaughlin & Associates conducted a survey which showed voters strongly support charter schools and broadly favor a proposed Constitutional Amendment to allow them to continue to flourish in Georgia. Among all voters, 62% support the proposed Amendment and would vote yes if the election were held today, with another 17% undecided. This support is consistent across both political parties, with Republicans voting yes at 66%, Democrats at 58%, and independent voters at 62%. The Amendment enjoys stronger than average support among African-American voters (65%) and Latino voters (75%) than it does among white voters (61%), indicating strong support for charter schools among minority respondents.

Here’s the ballot language of one of the Amendments. I will read it slowly because some of the language is technical. “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended for the purpose of raising student achievement by allowing state and local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?” If you were voting on this amendment today, would you vote yes in favor of this amendment or no, against this amendment?

2) We also asked the voters about their confidence in the ability of charter schools to educate students. In response to this question, our survey found that Georgia voters have greater confidence in charter schools than they do in their local school system, the State of Georgia or the United States government when it comes to educating Georgia kids. Respondents were half as likely to express a lack of confidence in charter schools (15%) as they were in their local school system (30%).

3) General election voters also strongly believe that education should be a partnership between the State of Georgia and local school systems (86% yes, 9% no). Voters strongly believe that both the state and local governments have a role in education. This belief is consistent across every demographic category we tracked, and holds regardless of party identification, gender, race or age.

4) To gauge the electoral impact of this issue, we also asked voters if they would be more likely to support a legislator who voted in favor of putting this Constitutional Amendment on the ballot. 56% of respondents said they would be more likely to vote for a legislator who took this action, and 26% said it would make no difference in their choice. A small minority (12%) took a negative view. From an electoral perspective, supporting charter schools is a roughly five to one net positive across virtually every demographic and political category surveyed.

Support for public charter schools in Georgia enjoys an unusually high level of support from Georgia voters, regardless of political party, race, ideology, gender or age.

McLaughlin & Associates conducted a survey of 400 likely general election voters in the state of Georgia on January 25th and 26th, 2012. All interviews were conducted via telephone by professional interviewers. Respondents were randomly selected within predetermined geographic units structured to correlate with actual voter turnout. The survey of 400 likely voters has an accuracy of +/- 4.9% at a 95% confidence interval.

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