Thursday, October 09, 2008

The folks at Western New England College sent me this today and I thought it was interesting:

Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly oppose eliminating the state income tax, according to the latest survey from the Western New England College Polling Institute.

The telephone poll of 408 registered voters, conducted September 29 through October 6, found that 62 percent of voters oppose Question 1, a ballot initiative that calls for doing away with the state’s income tax. Twenty-six percent favor the idea, while 12 percent said they are undecided or declined to offer an opinion.

The survey also found:

Voters favor decriminalizing possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, with 62 percent voicing support, 32 percent opposed, and five percent saying they are undecided or declining to offer an opinion.

Voters support banning dog racing in Massachusetts 53 percent to 30 percent, but a sizable number – 17 percent – said they are undecided or declined to offer an opinion.
Voters will decide the questions on November 4. Previous attempts to eliminate the income tax and ban dog racing have failed. The income tax proposal received support from 45 percent of voters in 2002, while the dog racing ban lost narrowly in 2000.

The nature of ballot questions can make the outcome of initiatives hard to predict, said Tim Vercellotti, associate professor of political science and co-director of the Western New England College Polling Institute. “Some voters who express a preference on ballot questions in pre-election surveys don’t always make it that far down the ballot when casting their vote,” Vercellotti said. He noted that 11 percent of voters who cast a ballot in the 2002 gubernatorial race did not vote on the state income tax question in that election.

Question wording also can influence voters’ responses on issues. The Western New England College Polling Institute asked:

“Voters in November also will decide whether Massachusetts should eliminate the state income tax. Supporters of this idea say it will save the average taxpayer $3,600 per year. Opponents of this idea say eliminating the income tax would force state and local government to make deep cuts in services.

Do you support or oppose eliminating the state income tax?”

“After hearing both sides of the issue in the question, voters were less likely to support the idea,” Vercellotti noted. “While eliminating the income tax may have initial appeal when it comes to voters’ pocketbooks, hearing about the potential consequences in terms of services seems to reduce that appeal.”

Opinions about the proposal varied by party identification and education. Democrats opposed the idea 74 percent to 14 percent, while Republicans favored it 42 percent to 36 percent. Independent voters also were opposed by a margin of 70 percent to 22 percent. Voters who have a high school education or less were evenly divided, with 41 percent in favor and 45 percent opposed. Survey respondents who had at least some college opposed the idea 59 percent to 25 percent, while college graduates were opposed 70 percent to 19 percent.

Support for decriminalizing possession of an ounce or less of marijuana also varied across key demographic factors – in this case party identification and age. Democrats and independent voters supported the idea 62 percent to 32 percent. The margin was narrower among Republican voters, who backed the idea 54 percent to 44 percent. The proposal, which will be Question 2 on the November ballot, also drew sizable support from voters under age 65. Voters age 65 and older were evenly split, with 45 percent in favor and 45 percent opposed.

The proposed ban on dog racing in Massachusetts – listed as Question 3 on the ballot – divided voters by party and gender. Democrats supported the ban 62 percent to 27 percent, while 49 percent of Republican and independent voters were in favor and about one-third of each group was opposed. Women were more likely than men to support the ban. Fifty-nine percent of women were in favor, with 22 percent opposed. Male voters were almost evenly split, with 44 percent in favor and 40 percent opposed.

The survey also found a relatively large level of uncertainty about the idea, with 17 percent of voters saying they were undecided or declining to offer an opinion. “A large chunk of the electorate has not yet formed views on this issue,” Vercellotti said. “That suggests there could be some volatility in opinion in this area, with the potential for some swings before Election Day.”

The Western New England College Polling Institute surveyed 449 adults drawn from across Massachusetts using random-digit-dialing between September 29 and October 6. The sample yielded 408 adults who said they were registered to vote in Massachusetts. Unless otherwise noted, figures are based on the statewide sample of registered voters. The data were weighted to reflect the adult population of Massachusetts by gender, race and age. Complete results of the poll are available online at


Magic said...

An Eye Opener

Back in June of 2008 we were presented an opportunity to make a visit to one of the two remaining greyhound racing tracks Massachusetts. We had adopted Magic four years ago thinking we had "saved" or "rescued" him from a miserable existence. I was ready to get a first hand look at how our "poor puppy" had been treated.

We were met by the volunteer coordinator and given an overview of our day and then brought to the weigh in area where all the dogs are brought before racing. Here I learned that the dogs are weighed in and checked by both the track veterinarian as well as the state racing commission vet. After they are weighed and examined, they are placed in kennel crates-- one dog per crate with the measurements which were set by the MSPCA and Grey2K USA-- to await their chance to race. I was shocked at the level of security and the regulations that help to insure the safety of the dogs.

We were then taken to the post race area where the dogs are brought to cool down. They are walked by their handlers after the race so that they can relax their muscles, get some fresh cold water, a bath to clean any dust off their coat, paws. They even get their eyes washed out as well. There is another area sectioned off and controlled by the state racing commission. This is where they bring dogs selected at random for urine testing.

We were told about the training and schooling that the dogs go through, the selective breeding process which is also very tightly regulated to prevent inbreeding and over breeding. We were given an opportunity to ask questions and express our concerns and receive honest and straight forward answers.

We took a break for lunch and had the opportunity to watch a couple of the races. This was a first for us. We had seen our own retired racer sprint and run with some of his greyhound friends. Nothing compares to the beauty of these dogs at full speed. It is truly amazing and even more so that they really seem to enjoy doing it. As we watched the dogs walk to the starting gate I could see that they were excited. It was a beautiful sight-- seeing these dogs do that which they were created to do.

After lunch we paid a visit to one of the kennels. Now I was ready to see the horrible conditions we have been told about. The turn out area was clean and free of any piles of waste. There was an odor of dogs, we were, after all in a a kennel, but it was not a foul smell. The trainer allowed us to let several of the dogs out of their crates a couple at a time. All of them were very happy and playful. Not one seemed skittish or scared at all! If a dog is abused, you can usually tell by the way it acts around its owner, and also around strangers. Happy, friendly and playful. Every last one of them.

The trainer told us about his days, often twelve to fourteen hours long. You can see his love for the dogs and their love for him in their interactions. The kennel and the crates are cleaned every day. (I wish our house was cleaned that often!) They are subject to unannounced inspections by the State Police and MSPCA.

I came away with a different opinion that day.

If Ballot Question 3 passes, Massachusetts will lose over a thousand more jobs, an average of 4 million dollars per year in taxes and fees, the businesses surrounding the tracks will also also experience negative effects. The Greyhound breed as we know it, will eventually cease to exist, and it is this that saddens me most of all. Greyhounds are unlike any other dog I have ever had.

Please, vote NO on question 3.

Josh said...

look at that. not one single semicolon in the whole damn release. wtf?

dogboy443 said...

Well, I thought I would be the only person replying about Greyhound racing. As a certain person who has a position of importance on a certain rescue group, I have to retain neutrality at public events and adoption events, but here...might be a different situation. I was all for voting yes on #3, but after talking to a couple who are very active in our group and who have seen the conditions at the tracks, I will probably vote no also. The couple in question have told me how well the Greys are taken care of and that the conditions at the Massachusetts tracks are amazing compared to some other states. Florida has a huge numbers of tracks, kennels and breeders and the state does not regulate it with the kind of passion that Massachusetts does. When you pick up a dog from the MA tracks, they're in good health, decent weight and are not infested with ticks or fleas. Florida tracks however are just the opposite. Lousy health and sanitary conditions, under-fed, under weight and infested with ticks and fleas. How more dogs don't die just from the conditions is amazing. I wish Florida would take care of their Greys and improve health conditions. If it wasn't for the money and political ties, this kind of Massachusetts bill should be presented to Florida voters instead.