Voters Turning Against Ward Connerly’s Efforts to Outlaw Race-Sensitive Admissions at the University of Michigan

A new poll conducted by the Detroit Free Press finds dwindling support for the so-called Michigan Civil Rights Initiative. The referendum, scheduled to appear on the ballot this November, calls for an end to the consideration of race in hiring or contracting by any agency of the state government. The measure would also outlaw the use of race in admissions decisions at the University of Michigan and other state-operated colleges and universities. Ward Connerly, the African-American businessman who led the effort to ban race-sensitive admissions at the University of California, is president of the American Civil Rights Institute, the prime fundraising source for efforts to enact the Michigan initiative.

The poll found that 48 percent of voters opposed the measure whereas 43 were in favor of it. Men say they will vote to approve the referendum by a margin of 52 percent to 42 percent. But women oppose the measure by a wide margin. Whites are split down the middle on the initiative but blacks opposed it by a 3 to 1 margin.

Opponents of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative appear to be making headway in educating the public about adverse effects the measure will have in maintaining racial diversity in state government and in enrollments at state universities. This past March a poll conducted on behalf of a political newsletter in Michigan found that 55 percent of voters approved of the measure. A poll by the Detroit Free Press in 2003 found that two thirds of Michigan voters approved of the initiative.