Initiative 522 opponents in Washington State have apparently shifted some voters against the ballot measure to require labeling of food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The state’s only independent, non-partisan survey research firm, known as the Elway Poll, says its Oct. 15-17 interviews with 413 registered Washington State voters found there’s been a dramatic 41-percent shift since last month in opinions about the ballot measure. Support for I-522 has gone down by 20 percent and opposition has grown by 21 percent.
Elway reports I-522 proponents are clinging to a narrow 46-to-42 percent lead, with 12 percent of the voters still undecided. Pollster Steward Elway said the election is now within the “margin of error,” which, in this poll, is 5 percent.
This means I-522 in Washington State is now officially “too close to call.”
The “No on 522” campaign, with contributions from agricultural and food giants such as Monsanto and Dupont, has raised nearly three times as much money as initiative proponents ($17.2 million and $6.1 million, respectively). The GMO labeling issue is easily dominating election advertising in the state’s off-year, all-mail-ballot election.
The shift in momentum comes even though the state had to force the anti-522 side to disclose the actual source of contributions it was getting through the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). Pepsi, Coke, and Nestle each sent the “No” campaign $1 million through GMA’s fund for defending brands.
The “No” campaign, however, has benefited from favorable editorial support from most of the state’s major newspapers and a supportive report from the official state Academy of Sciences. “No” campaign spokesmen say the more voters learn about I-522, the more likely they are to oppose it.
After enduring a month of seemingly unending paid advertising against I-522, the “Yes” campaign remains hopeful because its side is still ahead and has enough money to keep its “right to know” ads on the air.
Still, the Elway Poll results raise the possibility that I-522 could end up being a repeat of last year’s Proposition 37 campaign in California. Prop 37 also started out with a commanding lead, only to end up being narrowly defeated after going up against better-funded opposition that succeeded in getting its message through to voters.© Food Safety News