Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Understanding The Latest Howey Politics Poll Supposedly Showing Lack Of Support For Pence Tax Cut Plan

Howey Politics released a poll yesterday that was widely reported in the news media around the state as an indication that the public does not support Gov. Mike Pence's proposal to cut state income taxes 10%. A report by WTHR is reflective of what mainstream media reported throughout the state:
Indiana Governor Mike Pence has been pushing his ten-percent income tax cut with some reluctance from his own party, and now a new poll reveals a minority of Hoosiers on the governor's side.
A Howey poll released Tuesday found that only 39-percent of people in Indiana support the income tax cut. Thirty-three-percent say they support a Republican Senate version. and 17 percent say they don't support either. 
The numbers cited in the news reports accurately reflect the poll number results released by a pollster, which had a decent track record in the past election cycle, but they don't accurately reflect the media spin put on those poll numbers.

As pollsters know, the devil is in the detail. How a question is put to respondents can skew a poll's results. Many pollsters use push-polling techniques in the wording of questions to push respondents in the direction they want to lead them. Brian Howey provided me the wording of the question that was put to the poll respondents on the Pence tax cut question. Here's how it read:

You may have heard that Governor Mike Pence wants to cut income taxes by 10%. He says Indiana can provide taxpayers with relief and still increase education funding by 1% annually, put more money toward transportation, and set aside a reserve. The Republican controlled Senate recently proposed phasing out the inheritance tax and cutting income taxes by 3% in order to increase education and transportation funding beyond what Governor Pence's plan call for.
Which approach do you support?
In response to that mixed question, 39% said they favored Pence's tax cut plan, while 33% said they favored a smaller 3% tax cut proposed by the Senate. Most notably, only 17% said they supported neither proposal. So what can we conclude from this poll? Well, if I want to spin the poll results another way I can say that it clearly shows an overwhelming 72% of the respondents favor cutting taxes to some degree, with a plurality of those supporting a tax increase favoring Pence's larger tax cut plan over the Senate's smaller tax cut plan. The news media reporting on the poll's results lead one to conclude that a minority of Hoosiers support Pence's call for a tax cut when in fact the vast majority are on his side in calling for cutting taxes. The difference is only the degree to which they favor cutting income taxes. The Senate plan would provide greater reductions in the inheritance tax not included in Pence's tax cut plan so that may attribute the trade off some of the respondents favor over Pence's larger income tax cut. Like I said, the devil is in the details.

1 comment:

Pete Boggs said...

The projected arrogance of insecurity / failed confidence in objective proof (spun as push polling), or narrative denial of that which might be observed as truth, is impairment, characteristic of a deranged "elite."