Not persuaded

With a reported multi-million dollar ad campaign  by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg  designed to justify the Cook County sweetened beverage tax, surely a swing in public opinion must be the outcome…right?

Not so much. This weekend, We Ask America Polls™ essentially re-ran an early August poll where the main question was:

“As you may know, a new tax has taken effect in Cook County that places a one-cent-per ounce- tax on most sweetened beverages. We’d like to know if you APPROVE, or DISAPPROVE of the new Cook County beverage tax that places a new tax on most sweetened beverages.”

The poll also asked voters’ opinions on the main motive for the tax increase (health vs. increased spending) and their opinions on re-electing officials who voted for the new tax.



1. Despite millions of dollars in TV ads justifying the beverage tax hitting the Chicago DMA, our Approve/Disapprove outcome was a virtual tie with the findings of the initial poll. In early August, we reported 86.64% of voters opposed the tax. On October 7, those opposed equaled 85.76%—well within the margin of error of the first poll.

2. Also within the previous poll’s margin of error were the percentage of voters who didn’t buy that commissioners who passed the beverage tax did so for health reasons. In early August, 80.33% believed that commissioners primarily passed the beverage tax to raise funds—not for health reasons. Two months later, 76.98% said the same—a movement of only three percentage points. It’s difficult to say that such a small drop—one basically within the margin of error—shows any statistically change. That is true especially in light of the continuing opposition to the tax.

3. Voters are still steaming about the passage of the tax, and may take it out at the ballot box if reasonable alternative candidates challenge those who originally voted for the tax. Nearly 79% of voters say they will be less likely to vote for a Cook County Commissioner who supported the beverage tax. That number—which is near the margin of error of the original poll—remains extraordinarily strong and the intensity hasn’t changed significantly. Even if the tax is repealed, the anger over its passage may hang over the next election.


DATEBev. Tax DisapprovalThink tax was passsed for $Less likely-elect pro-tax commissioner


Poll details:
Type: Hybrid; automated to landline phones, live operator interviews to cell phones.
Responses: 1,050 registered Voters
Margin of Error: 3.02%
Poll dates: Oct. 7, 2017