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Sick leave opponents closing gap

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Opposition to an ordinance requiring paid sick leave in Albuquerque has climbed sharply over the last two weeks, narrowing the race substantially in the final days of the campaign, according to a Journal Poll.

But proponents of the ballot initiative still had a slight lead among those surveyed last week.

Forty-eight percent of likely voters said they’re in favor of a sick leave ordinance, with 44 percent opposed, according to the scientific survey by Research & Polling Inc.

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The remaining 8 percent said they’re undecided or don’t know how they will vote.

The four-point gap between support and opposition has narrowed from a margin of 18 percentage points just two weeks ago in a similar poll. In that Journal poll, 50 percent said they supported the ordinance after hearing some of the details and 32 percent were opposed. Seventeen percent were undecided.

“We have a certain trend line here,” pollster Brian Sanderoff said in an interview. “Despite a four-point lead (for those supporting the ordinance), the momentum has clearly been with the opponents in recent weeks.”

Undecided voters are moving to the opposition, while support levels have remained roughly the same, he said.

“The opponents to this ballot measure have run an effective campaign to get their message out,” Sanderoff said, “and it shows in the numbers.”

Business groups and other critics have blasted the proposal, called the Healthy Workforce Ordinance, as a “job killing” mandate that would harm the economy in Albuquerque. They’ve described it as a “trick leave” ordinance and denounced it as deceptive.

Supporters, in turn, say the proposal is an essential protection for workers – ensuring, for example, that a single parent won’t have to choose between going to work and caring for a sick child.

The proposed ordinance would require employers in Albuquerque, regardless of size, to allow their workers to earn paid sick time off. It would apply to full-time, part-time and temporary workers at any business or nonprofit with a physical presence in Albuquerque.

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One unknown in the campaign, Sanderoff said, is how voters will respond to the ballot itself: The 1,900-word ordinance is printed in its entirety, taking up the back page of the ballot. Critics have said the numerous details are what makes the ordinance so damaging, while supporters say the details are needed to protect employees.

Support for the ordinance is much higher among Democrats than Republicans, and younger voters are also supportive.

Anglos are more likely than Hispanics to oppose.

The Journal Poll was conducted by telephone Tuesday through Thursday last week, using live professional interviewers. Both land lines (52 percent) and cellphones (48 percent) were called, and 618 likely municipal election voters were surveyed.

The survey asked: “In the municipal election, Albuquerque voters will have the opportunity to vote on a proposed ordinance regarding sick leave for employees in Albuquerque. This ordinance would require every business in Albuquerque to provide paid sick leave to all employees including temporary and part-time workers. Do you support or oppose this ordinance?”

The poll’s margin of error is 3.9 percentage points.

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