Who’s winning the Beverage Tax fight?

Both proponents and opponents of the Cook County beverage tax have been extremely vocal over the past few weeks. Those in favor of the tax—especially billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg—have been flooding the airways with ads warning of the dangers of sweetened beverages. Opponents—including strongly worded newspaper editorials—have been pointing out the negative economic effects of the tax on consumers and businesses alike.

Who’s winning?

We Ask America decided to find an answer based on two straight-forward questions asked to more than 1,000 likely voters:

  1. As you may know, the Cook County Board will have the opportunity in October to REPEAL the beverage tax. Do you think the County Board should KEEP, or REPEAL the Cook County beverage tax?

  2. If your county commissioner voted to KEEP the beverage tax, would you be MORE LIKELY, or LESS LIKELY to support his or her re-election? “

Click HERE to download the poll results.

Findings

  1. Despite millions of dollars in ads justifying the beverage, Cook County voters continue to overwhelmingly favor a repeal of it. While there is no reason to say that people disagree with the health warnings being issued in the ads, it is safe to assume that voters are not persuaded that the tax is a good thing. Similar to earlier polls before the onslaught of ads, people want the beverage tax to go away. Period.

  2. This could be THE issue in next year’s County Board Election. The continued strength of disdain over the tax in the wake of an incredible wave of anti-beverage ads is an indication of deeply rooted positions. Is the Beverage Tax the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back? Perhaps. Voters who got walloped by recent property tax hikes were probably itching to act out, and the Commissioners who used the health argument to vote for it whiffed in their explanation. The beverage tax provides an easy target for organized opponents who will be hurling five-second sound bites that require five-minute responses—never a good thing in politics. Pro-tax commissioners are walking on extremely thin ice that can crack if a quality opponent steps onto the same pond.

  3. If the beverage tax influences higher turnout in the next Primary, pro-tax commissioners will suffer. There is a sizable swing on the re-elect question between one-of-three and three-of-three Democratic voters. Any increase in turnout will be a sizable drag for commissioners who voted for the beverage tax.

 

Poll details:

Type: Hybrid; automated to landline phones, live operator interviews to cell phones.
Responses: 1,056 registered Voters
Margin of Error: 3.02%
Poll dates: Sept. 19, 2017

 

Poll: Health-related ad viewers are MORE likely to oppose the beverage tax

Proponents of the recently enacted Cook County beverage tax have been conducting a local advertising campaign featuring health-related themes. Reportedly, up to $5 million has been committed to the health-related TV ads alone.

We were curious of how affective those ads have been thus far. To determine that, three questions were asked:

  • We’d like to know if you have seen the ads in Cook County that seek to educate people about health issues related to consumption of sugary beverages like juice and soda?
  • Do you feel that Cook County commissioners who voted in favor of the new beverage tax did so primarily because of those kind of health concerns, or some other reason?
  • Do you AGREE or DISAGREE with this statement: “No matter what the reason for passing the beverage tax, I would like to see repealed.”

Findings (1,092 responses):

  • The ads warning people about the risks of consuming sugary beverages have either been widely seen and/or widely reported. A phenomenal 83.7 percent of the people taking the poll were aware of the health-related ads.
  • Few people believe that the Beverage Tax was passed to address those health concerns. Voters remain skeptical that the Cook County Board members who voted for the Beverage Tax did so because of health concerns. A substantial 87.53 percent of those asked chose the generic “other reasons” as the root cause for the vote.
  • The percentage of those who want the Beverage Tax repealed is within the margin of error for previous polls that did not bring up health concerns. A poll that was conducted before the health-related ads commenced (Aug. 6) resulted in 86.64 percent favoring repeal – less than two percentage points higher than this post-health ads survey.
  • People who have seen the health-related ads are more likely to support repeal. While there is no correlation present in this poll suggesting that the ads have had a reverse effect on voters’ attitudes, the difference between those who HAVE seen the ads and those who have NOT seen them is indisputable. (download poll to see results).

Click HERE to download poll results.

Notes & Comments

  • There continues to be no statistical difference between the City and suburban areas in any of these areas questioned.
  • Not a single poll participant in the youngest voting category (18-24) believes County Commissioners who voted for the tax did so to combat the health problems associated with sugar consumption.

Poll details:

Type: Hybrid; automated to landline phones, live operator interviews to cell phones.
Responses: 1,092 Registered Voters
Margin of Error: 3.06%
Poll date: Sept. 7-8, 2017