“No” on No. 4.

That is the consensus of 50 percent of voters surveyed in a new Civil Beat poll. Only 34 percent are in favor of amending the state constitution to allow the state to use public funds to help pay for privately run early education programs.

Nine percent said they are unsure of how they’ll vote on the measure while 7 percent say they won’t even bother.

Given that ballot question No. 4 must garner 50 percent of the vote plus one vote in order to pass — and that ballots left blank on this question count as “no” votes — it seems that the preschool funding measure is headed for a resounding defeat.

Keiki Child Center of Hawaii in Pearl City. 4.30.14 ©PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Keiki Child Center of Hawaii in Pearl City is one of many private preschools that have endorsed the constitutional amendment.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Good Beginnings vs. HSTA

The opposition to No. 4 comes in spite of a concerted effort from groups like Good Beginnings Alliance, which have pushed aggressively to rally support for the measure. Equally spirited, however, has been opposition from the likes of the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

Full disclosure: The Omidyar Family Trust has donated at least $350,000 to the Good Beginnings Alliance campaign in support of Question No. 4. The trust is affiliated with Civil Beat founder and publisher Pierre Omidyar.

The Executive Office on Early Learning receives in-kind support from The Omidyar Group and Collaborative Leaders Network, as well as grants from the Hawaii Community Foundation via the Omidyar Ohana Fund. But the office, as a state agency, cannot take a position on the ballot question.

Another disclosure: Civil Beat’s editorial board has published its support for ballot question No. 4, arguing, “Hawaii lags far behind the rest of the country when it comes to giving young kids a leg up on school.”

Preschool funding poll graf 10.2014

The Pro and Con Debate

Supporters of No. 4 say its passage is key to establishing an early education system in Hawaii. They believe it could expand access to preschool for thousands of 4-year-olds who miss out because their families can’t afford it.

Opponents, however, question whether it is appropriate to give taxpayer money to private providers, including ones with religious affiliations. They also worry about the cost to the state, which has been estimated to range from $40 million up to $125 million.

The Civil Beat Poll was conducted by the Merriman River Group. We surveyed 1,221 likely voters statewide Oct. 16-19. The poll, which sampled 70 percent landlines versus 30 percent cellphones, has a margin of error of 2.8 percent.

Support for ballot question No. 4 is waning. When Civil Beat polled the issue last month, 45 percent said they opposed the idea, 40 percent supported it, 12 percent were unsure and 3 percent said they wouldn’t bother to vote on the ballot question.

Keiki Child Center of Hawaii in Pearl City. 4.30.14

Keiki Child Center of Hawaii in Pearl City.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Across the Board Opposition

In Civil Beat’s latest survey on the preschool funding question, opposition has come from nearly all demographic groups we asked voters to identify.

Regardless of age, gender, income, union or military background, a majority of people are likeminded on No. 4.

That also goes for ideology and location as well, although liberals are split on the matter while a plurality of Filipinos and Kauai voters surveyed support the ballot amendment.

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