Test of actual ballot language for “tax surcharge” shows passage among most partisan segments
Contact: Chuck Coughlin, 602-528-3684
PHOENIX (October 7, 2020) – The latest statewide survey conducted by HighGround Inc. reveals that Proposition 208, the 3.5% income tax “surcharge” on Arizona’s highest wage earners, is likely to pass with 56.0% Yes to 38.0% No. It should be noted that HighGround’s survey tested the actual language that will be on the ballot along with the messaging both campaigns were using prior to the launch of the poll.
“When you are working on a proposition or issue, you want to start early voting with a number in the mid to high fifty percent range. Proposition 208 is hitting that mark with advantages among most partisan and regional demographics,” said J. Charles Coughlin, President and CEO of HighGround, Inc. “As many have said for several years, education is the top issue facing the state and voters continue to believe that teachers are underpaid. Something was going to fill this void and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that most Arizonans who aren’t going to pay the tax are willing to vote for it.”
In addition to testing the ballot language, the survey also tested pro and con messaging based on the significant resources spent in airtime advocating for both the passage and defeat of the measure. The messaging placed the need for funding against the accountability and business concerns. 50.3% of voters opted for the “Yes” funding messages compared to 38.7% of the electorate who sided with the “No” concerns.
“As a small business owner, I am deeply concerned about the impacts of Proposition 208 on small businesses and my ability to pass on profits to employees. It’s not a surprise that voter anxiety regarding education funding easily overwhelm the customary anti-tax pedagogy of the GOP,” said Coughlin. “It’s a good thing that the No on 208 campaign changed their messaging in recent weeks because bashing schools for lack of accountability was poor messaging. I expect their new messaging may help narrow the lead and may prevail. However, when a majority of voters don’t have to pay for something they want, the outcome seems preordained. The window is closing for the opposition as ballots are hitting households right now.”
Coughlin concluded, “This is likely not the last time we will have this education discussion. Whether or not Proposition 208 passes, education funding and tax reform are expected to be at the forefront of our gubernatorial election two years from now. It’s too important of an issue and voters care too much about it to be ignored.”
About the Survey
The N=400 survey was conducted among likely voters 9/28 through 10/5. The poll surveyed likely Arizona 2020 General Election voters who have a history of electoral participation and was balanced to model the likely turnout of voters across party, age, region, and gender.
The live interview survey of voters was conducted by HighGround Public Affairs to both landline and cell phone users. The partisan advantage was set at +3% GOP based on previous election trends, including the uptick in Democratic participation in the August primary, and expected Presidential Election turnout. The margin of error is ±4.9%.
The HighGround team has built a reputation of reliable and accurate polling over the past ten years – our research has been featured on Nate Silver’s 538, Real Clear Politics, Huffington Post, and many other publications. Paul Bentz was named back to back winner of “Best Pollster” by the Arizona Capitol Times.