San Francisco Chronicle 10/10/04


Stem cell bond measure favored in poll
California would put $3 billion in research under Proposition 71

By Greg Lucas, Sacramento Bureau Chief

Sacramento - A November ballot measure that would require the state to issue bonds to pay for stem-cell research is favored by 46 percent of likely voters and opposed by 39 percent, according to a Field Poll released today.

Voters who were aware of Proposition 71 before being polled supported it by a much wider margin - 58 percent to 34 percent - suggesting that the more than $21 million spent in support of the measure is swaying opinion.

"The side communicating with voters, which is mainly the 'yes' side, seems to be drawing people to them. That speaks well for the continuing advertising campaign on the 'yes' side," said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll.

Prop. 71 would authorize the sale of $3 billion in state bonds and the creation of a state institute that would use the bond proceeds to offer grants to stem cell researchers.

Scientists believe that greater knowledge of stem cells could lead to an understanding of what causes diseases like cancer, and provide a reservoir of replacement cells to treat heart disease or diabetes, among other disorders.

The measure requires any entity receiving a Prop. 71 grant to share royalty and patent revenue with the state.

Those who knew nothing of the proposition before being polled were more likely to oppose it: 45 percent against as compared to 34 percent in favor.

DiCamillo said another positive sign for Prop. 71's backers is that when asked why they supported it, voter responses tended to fall into two categories.

Of voters who supported the proposition, 56 percent said they did so because it would fuel more medical research, and 40 percent said the measure would help find cures for diseases and save lives.

Both are themes of the "yes" campaign's advertising.

"Just looking at the answers, I would give the advantage to the 'yes' side because there seems to be a clear message, and if you keep conveying that, voters could be responsive," DiCamillo said.

Voters against the proposition showed no such consistency in their reasons.

Twenty-six percent said they are against abortion and the retrieval of stem cells from aborted fetuses. Twenty percent said the bond debt would be more than the state can afford. Thirteen percent of said passage would move the state closer to cloning humans, and another 10 percent said scientists shouldn't be playing God.

The "yes" side also has an overwhelming monetary advantage over the measure's opponents, spending $21.5 million since January.

Many of the "yes" campaign's contributions have come in large chunks -- usually more than $100,000 and sometimes more than $200,000 -- given by venture capitalists. Microsoft's Bill Gates kicked in $400,000.

But the largest contributor to the pro-Prop. 71 campaign is Gordon Gund of Gund Investment Corp, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team, who gave $986,700.

Gund lost his eyesight to a degenerative disorder called retinitis pigmentosa. He created the Fighting Blindness Foundation, which has raised more than $175 million for research since 1971.

The Field Poll was conducted between Sept. 25 and 28 among 549 Californians considered to be likely voters in November.

The results have a sampling error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

For more information about Proposition 71 visit our website

Paid for by YES on 71: Coalition for Stem Cell Research and Cures, #1260661
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