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Voters split on education reform bill

South Dakotans are split nearly evenly between support, opposition and indecision in regard to an education reform bill that has been referred to the November ballot.

That's according to a survey released this week by Nielson Brothers Polling, a Sioux Falls firm. It's the second poll released by the company in less than a week; the earlier poll was on candidates for statewide office.

When NBP asked about Referred Law 16, previously known as HB 1234, which will be on the November ballot, 38 percent said they will vote against the law, 32 percent are still undecided and 30 percent said they will vote for the law.

Referred Law 16 is a bill proposed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard to award bonuses to high-performing teachers while eliminating tenure and using incentives to recruit teachers for high-demand positions. The South Dakota Education Association is leading the effort to defeat the law.

NBP reported that 50 percent of South Dakota likely voters said that they would repeal the Affordable Care Act while 37 percent would not repeal it, and 13 percent said they were undecided.

Same-sex marriage was opposed 56 to 34 percent, with 10 percent undecided.

When asked about their economic future, 51 percent of respondents said they are "less confident" compared to this time last year. That's up from the 49 percent who answered "less confident" in NBP's December 2011 survey.

In the survey, 29 percent said they are "more confident," an increase from the 23 percent response in December, and 21 percent said "about the same." The numbers are split along party lines, as 44 percent of Democrats said they are "more confident" while 67 percent of Republicans said they are "less confident."

When asked to describe the current state of the American economy, 15 percent of respondents answered "good," 47 percent answered "only fair," 38 percent said "poor," and 1 percent answered "excellent."

NBP also asked how respondents judge the direction of South Dakota. Forty-three percent said the state is going in the "right direction," 32 percent said "wrong direction" and 25 percent were undecided. That's very close to the results in the final NBP survey before the 2010 general election, when 44 percent said "right direction," 26 percent said "wrong direction" and 30 percent were undecided.

When asked about their preference between a generic state Senate candidate in their district based only on party affiliation, 45 percent said they would vote for the Republican candidate, 35 percent would vote for the Democratic candidate and 20 percent are undecided. These numbers are identical to responses to a similar question in the final NBP survey leading up to the 2010 general election.

The questions all had a margin of error of about 4 percent.