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Greyhounds races in Naples/Fort Myers track. Photo: Van Abernethy.

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Poll: Dog-racing ban looks like it won’t make it to finish line

A new poll suggests a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at ending live dog racing in Florida may not pass.

The survey by St. Pete Polls shows a total of 50 percent polled are for Amendment 13, while 38 percent are opposed and nearly 12 percent are still undecided just a days before the general election.

Amendments, however, need no less than 60 percent approval to be added to the state’s governing document. That means the campaign to pass the measure will need to convince many of the uncertain to come over to their side in the next few days.

More significantly, of those who said they already voted, 53 ½ percent voted ‘yes,’ a little over 38 percent voted ‘no,’ and just over 8 percent were “undecided.”

To be undecided on the question but already voted suggests those are undervotes; that is, people who did not register a preference for that amendment on their ballot.

For those polled who said they had not yet voted but plan to do so, 45 percent voted for the amendment, roughly 38 ½ were against, and almost 16 ½ percent hadn’t made up their minds yet.

Carey Theil, Senior Advisor to the Protect Dogs-Yes on 13 campaign, said Saturday that these latest results “show a photo finish with Amendment 13 approaching 60 percent.”

“The most reliable data is the survey results for people who have already voted,” he said in a statement to Florida Politics. “For that group, the data suggests an undervote of 8 percent and the race at 58-42 among the votes that have already been cast.

“This is consistent with another survey done by Suffolk University last week, and our internal projections indicate Amendment 13 will likely receive between 58 percent and 62 percent of the vote.

“The Suffolk survey indicated broad support across the entire electorate: Of people who have made up their mind, we won with a healthy margin among both men (59 percent) and women (62 percent).

“We do well in every geographic area of the state: South (63 percent), North (59 percent), West (60 percent) and East (58 percent).

“We further do well among every age group: 18-34 (61 percent), 35-44 (59 percent), 45-54 (64 percent), 55-65 (60 percent) and 65-and-older (58 percent).

“And we do well among voters who are white (61 percent), black (62 percent), and Latino/a (58 percent).

“This race is close, and Tuesday will be a long night for those of us who care about greyhounds,” he concluded.

Here’s the fine print for the poll: It was conducted Nov. 1-2 “through an automated phone call polling system. The results were then weighted to account for proportional differences between the respondents’ demographics and the demographics of the active general election voter population for the state of Florida.

“The weighting demographics used were: political party, race, age, gender and media market.

“The voters polled were chosen at random within the registered voter population within the state of Florida. Voters who said they were not planning to vote were excluded from the results below. The scientific results shown for the questions below have a sample size of 2,733 and a 1.9 percentage point margin of error, at a 95 percent confidence level.”

Amendment 13, placed on the ballot by the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission, would outlaw placing bets on greyhound and other dog races, such as at the state’s pari-mutuels. In Florida, live dog racing is still conducted at 11 tracks.

If approved, the amendment would allow greyhound racing to continue through the end of 2020. The proposal also would allow other gambling at tracks, such as card games, to continue even after dog racing ends.

Updated 2:30 p.m. — Jennifer Newcome, chair of the Committee to Support Greyhounds, writes: “The Committee is confident that we will be victorious in this vote, keeping the proud, century-old tradition of greyhound racing in Florida alive and well for many years to come.

“The dedication of our boots-on-the-ground greyhound supporters, paired with both active and retired racers, has contributed to a tremendous statewide community outreach program.

“With our TV, radio and digital ads and billboard campaigns, along with the support of over 100 greyhound adoption groups as well as over 80 independent entities, we are confident that our truthful message has been spread, and in turn will lead to Florida voters supporting greyhounds and voting ‘No’ on 13.”

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Background for this post from Senior Editor Jim Rosica in Tallahassee. Main photo: Van Abernethy.

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