PPIC poll ignores big drop in support for Brown’s tax

May 30, 2012

By Wayne Lusvardi

A recent California opinion poll selectively reports data only in favor of Gov. Brown’s tax increase proposal on the November 2012 ballot. Conversely, it ignores data indicating growing opposition to Brown’s package of income and sales tax increases.

The May 23 press release of the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) reported no change from April, whether voters would favor or oppose Brown’s budget and $15.7 billion tax increase proposal.  Here’s what PPIC press release reported:

Support For Brown Initiative Holds. A majority (56%) say they would vote yes on Brown’s tax initiative, with 38 percent saying they would vote no and 7 percent undecided.  This is similar to the results of the April survey in which 54 percent said they would vote yes (39% no, 6% undecided).

But question #34 in its May 2012 opinion poll reports that only 41 percent favor Brown’s tax plan and 50 percent oppose it.

That would reflect a 13 percent drop in favorability for Brown’s tax plan since April.

This also indicates a rise from 39 percent to 50 percent — or a total of 11 percent — of those who oppose Brown’s proposed tax increase.

Unsurprisingly, PPIC was negligent in not accurately reporting the decline in support for and increase in opposition to Brown’s tax measure.

Here’s the results of PPIC’s new poll excerpted verbatim from their website:

34. On another topic, Governor Brown recently released a revised budget plan for the next fiscal year to close the state’s projected $15.7 billion budget deficit. It includes spending cuts to Medi-Cal, welfare, childcare and other social service programs
and to courts and state employee compensation. It increases funding for K-12 public education. The proposal includes tax increases that would have to be approved by voters through an initiative on the November ballot. In general, do you favor or oppose the governor’s budget plan?

– 41% favor 
– 50% oppose
– 3% haven’t heard anything about the budget (volunteered)
– 6% don’t know 

The reported 41 percent who favor Brown’s tax and the 50 percent who oppose it is unlikely a mistake because all the numbers including “don’t know” add up to 100 percent. The growing — but unreported — opposition to Brown’s tax proposition is consistent with the public’s growing opposition to raising the state sales tax and cigarette tax — Prop 29.

Near supermajority oppose raising sales tax not reported

Part of Gov. Brown’s tax increase proposal includes a one-quarter percent (0.25 percent) increase in the base sales tax rate from 7.25 percent to 7.50 percent.  This proposed sales tax rate increase is being touted as “temporary.”  But California’s “temporary” two-year one percent sales tax increase expired on July 1, 2011.

The PPIC May 2012 poll press release inconsistently reports that the support for the proposed sales tax increase has dropped to 58 percent. But the actual reported results to the poll indicate that support for a sales tax rate increase was only 33 percent in May. Here is the actual PPIC opinion poll question and results excerpted from their website:

May 2012 PPIC Poll Result:

33. Do you favor or oppose raising the state sales tax?

– 33% favor
– 64% oppose
– 3% don’t know

The April 2012 PPIC poll reported 33 percent of voters were in favor and 52 percent opposed to raising the sales tax, even for K-12th grade public schools (see question #33 in April poll).  Thus, there was an apparent 13 percent drop in those favoring an increase in the state sales tax rate from April to May 2012.

Additionally, there was a 12 percent increase in those opposed to a sale tax rate increase.

But once gain, the PPIC poll press release failed to report the drop of those in favor and the rise of those opposed to a sales tax rate increase.

Support for cigarette tax drops 14 points

PPIC also reported Proposition 29 — the cigarette tax — dropped 14 points from March to May. Support dropped from 67 percent to 53 percent.  The 14 percent drop is consistent with the 13 percent drop in support for Brown’s income tax and sales tax rate increases. PPIC reports the change in public opinion on the cigarette tax accurately.

Voter lack of trust extends to opinion polls

To sum up:

PPIC reports support for Gov. Brown’s proposed budget and tax package increase is holding steady at 56 percent in May 2012 compared to 54 percent in April 2012.  The actual PPIC poll results indicate support for Brown’s tax dropped to 41 percent, a 13 percent drop in May. Opposition to Brown’s tax package rose from 39 percent to 50 percent, an 11 percent unreported jump in May.

PPIC accurately reports that those FAVORING a sales tax increase held steady at 33 percent from April to May 2012.  But PPIC failed to report that those voters OPPOSED to a sales tax rate increase rose from 52 percent to 64 percent from April to May 2012. This is nearly a supermajority — two thirds — of the voters opposed to a sales tax increase. This indicates a 12 percent increase of those OPPOSED to sales tax rate increase. Once again, PPIC fails to report this in their press release. The PPIC May 2012 press release does not specifically report the change of voters FAVORING or OPPOSING a sales tax increase.

PPIC April and May 2012 reported and actual poll results

April 2012
May 2012
Percent Change of Voters – April to May
What PPIC Press Release Reported PPIC
Reporting Discrepancy

Brown Budget & Tax Package Increase

13% drop of those IN FAVOR Majority of voters (56%) FAVOR Brown’s Tax Increase PPIC puffed up those in FAVOR of tax by 15%
39% OPPOSED 50% OPPOSED 11% Increase in those OPPOSED Rise in those OPPOSED not reported PPIC ignored 11% increase in those OPPOSED to tax hikes

State Sales Tax Rate Increase

33% IN FAVOR 33% IN FAVOR No Change PPIC reported no change No discrepancy
12% Increase of those OPPOSED PPIC said 58% OPPOSED to sales tax rate increase as of May 2012 PPIC omitted 12% increase in those OPPOSED to tax
Cigarette Tax – Prop 29 67% IN FAVOR 53% IN FAVOR 14% drop in those who FAVOR tax 14% drop in those who FAVOR tax No discrepancy
PPIC April 2012 Poll: http://www.ppic.org/main/publication.asp?i=1014
PPIC May 2012 Poll:  http://www.ppic.org/main/publication.asp?i=1019
PPIC Press Release: http://www.ppic.org/main/pressrelease.asp?i=1236


The PPIC polls selectively reports data in support of tax increases and ignores data showing growing voter opposition to tax increases.  The actual data trend from April to May is consistent across the board: there is growing opposition to Brown’s tax increase package and the proposed cigarette tax hike — Prop 29 — from 11 percent to 14 percent.  This trend cuts across both those reporting support for a tax increase and those opposing a tax increase.  But PPIC selectively only focuses public attention on the data supporting tax increases.

The May PPIC poll indicated a growing “lack of trust of voters this election season.”  To this might be added a growing lack of voter trust of any opinion polls dealing with taxes.

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