Elon Poll says NC says ‘Tax Me’ — Really?

I find this poll result strange because that’s not what voters around the state – even liberal Orange County voters – have been saying when asked to approve local option 1/4 cent sales tax hikes. Maybe this is a framing thing. Maybe county leaders should have said not having the hike meant cutting jobs.
The General Assembly won’t have to seek the voters approval if they want to raise the sales tax, but it’s hard to see the smaller government crowd signing on to it.
Here’s the data link (pdf).

From the Elon Poll release:

North Carolina State Budget Situation

When told of the state budget shortfall and asked on how they would address it, only 15 percent of respondents were unwilling to increase existing taxes, but a majority of North Carolinians oppose the idea of creating new taxes where none currently exist.

If faced with a tax increase, half the respondents would prefer to increase the sales tax. Twelve percent would prefer an increase in property tax, while 16 percent would prefer an increase in the income tax.

In a separate question, the poll found 62 percent of citizens would support an increase in the sales tax by one cent on every dollar spent.

“These results indicate that North Carolinians are cognizant of the situation facing the state and, apparently in lieu of making things worse for others, are willing to shoulder their share of the budget burden,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll.

Citizens are also opposed (51 percent) to equal cuts across state programs, as well as eliminating current state employee jobs (56 percent).

Elon Poll

Latest from the Elon Poll says the economy is the number one issue facing North Carlina according to NC voters. Jump to the number one issue facing the nation, though, and it’s a three way tie between the economy, health care and the war.
Note also the 51 percent ‘wrong track’ response in a state that is doing fairly well by comparison to many.
Here’s the release:

Elon University Poll: Economy remains top concern in primary elections

North Carolina residents identify the economy as the most important issue facing the state and a majority of respondents in the most recent Elon University Poll say that the country has “gotten off on the wrong track.”

The poll, conducted April 14-17, 2008, by the Elon University Institute for Politics and Public Affairs, surveyed 543 North Carolina residents. The poll has a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points. The sample is of the population in general and does not restrict respondents by their voter eligibility or their likelihood of voting in an election.

Respondents said the following issues are the most important facing the state:

Economy: 35 percent, up six percentage points from February
Gas Prices: 9 percent, up seven percentage points from February
Elementary & Secondary Education: 9 percent, down three percentage points from February

Slightly more than half (51%) of the respondents said that the country has “strongly gotten off on the wrong track.”

The principle issues influencing their votes in the upcoming primary election were the following:

Economy: 88 percent
Health care: 81 percent
Iraq war: 80 percent

When asked to compare the major political parties, poll respondents indicated that Democrats were better equipped to handle most issues, including health care, education, the economy and the war in Iraq. The one policy area where Republicans were evaluated better than Democrats was immigration.

Yet there were stark contrasts across presidential candidates deemed best able to handle these issues. Republican Sen. John McCain was named the top candidate overall to handle issues involving immigration, the Iraq war, family values, and taxes.

Poll respondents named New York Sen. Hillary Clinton the best presidential candidate overall to handle health care and education. Her rival for the Democratic nomination, Barack Obama, was not selected as best overall to handle any of these issues.

“Interesting in these results are the obvious contrasts expressed by citizens,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll. “On the one hand they differ between favored party and favored candidate, but, on the other, they are quite resolute about where things stand and why. We should not be surprised by these results as it is this very incongruity that epitomizes North Carolina politics.”

For the North Carolina gubernatorial election, education and the economy were identified as influential issues at 53 and 51 percent, respectively. The economy (47%) was identified as the most influential issue in the U.S. Senate race.

About the Elon University Poll:

The nonpartisan Elon University Poll has conducted several polls each year since 2000 on issues of importance to North Carolina citizens. Results are shared with media, citizens and researchers to facilitate representative democracy and public policy making through better understanding of the opinions and needs of citizens in the region.