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 www.wnec.edu/news