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Poll: Graduated income tax might be a squeaker

Monday, Mar 18, 2019

* Poll taken for group supporting graduated income tax finds support for graduated income tax

Global Strategy Group recently conducted a poll on behalf of Think Big Illinois among 800 Illinois registered voters March 8-12, finding broad support for Governor Pritzker’s fair tax plan, with little public opposition to it.

* From the pollster

• Despite the opposition’s best efforts to activate the public against the fair tax, voters are not paying attention to this debate right now. Just 14% of voters say they have head “a lot” about proposed new changes to Illinois’ tax system, while six out of ten voters have heard little to nothing about it (62% heard “a little” or “nothing”). As a result, when we ask whether voters support or oppose “Governor Pritzker’s fair tax plan” generically with no additional description, a plurality of voters (42%) do not know enough to say, while more support it (33%) than oppose it (25%).

Looks like Pritzker’s name alone isn’t enough to give the plan a huge boost.

* Back to the memo

• But it’s clear that the idea behind Governor Pritzker’s fair tax is incredibly popular. Support skyrockets – and opposition stays flat – when the public hears a basic explanation of the plan. Six in ten voters (64%) support the plan after hearing a basic description of it (+31 from initial support), while opposition stays flat at 27% (just +2). Importantly, intensity is on the plan’s side with 37% strong support and just 17% strong opposition. The following is the description of the plan voters heard:

    Under Governor Pritzker’s fair tax plan, 97% of Illinois residents would not see a state income tax increase. Only those making $250,000 a year or more will see their taxes go up with the largest increases going to those making more than $1 million.

64 percent is actually lower than the 72 percent who supported a generic progressive income tax in last year’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll. The lower number could be because this new poll actually let people know who would pay more, but it could also be partly because the governor’s name was attached to it. There might be a ceiling of support when Pritzker’s name is used.

* Pollster

• Support is strong across the state, while opposition only exists at the fringes. Support spans across the state at 67% in the city of Chicago, 66% in suburban Cook County, 66% in the Collar Counties, and 60% Downstate. The Democratic base is fully supportive of it (83% support), while the Republican base is fractured, with even four in ten GOP voters in favor of it (41% support/49% oppose).

You can bet your house that those supportive GOP voters will be targeted heavily by the opposition. Partisanship is their best first move to undercut overall support. Pritzker will likely continue talking about bipartisanship right through election day to help counter this.

* Pollster

• Individual elements of the plan are incredibly popular with 70%+ support. Consider that:

    o 79% say they are more favorable to the plan when learning that “the plan would help the state meet its obligation to fund schools”
    o 78% say so when learning “97% of taxpayers will have their taxes remain the same or be reduced”
    o 76% say so when learning “it would provide $3.4 billion to fix the state budget crisis”
    o 70% say so when learning “only people making more than $250,000 dollars will see a tax increase”

Keep in mind that Pritzker will have plenty of money to spend on these positive messages. No way is he going to passively allow this to go down in flames if it makes it onto the ballot. He’ll be branded a loser just as he pivots toward reelection. And his entire fiscal plan will be in ruins. He’s gonna spend money like he did last year.

* Pollster

• Opposition arguments have been ineffective, and will continue to be ineffective, because they are weak and do not resonate with the public. After voters hear both positive and negative arguments about the plan, including many of the arguments made by opponents in recent weeks, support does not budge – 63% support (off just one point from where voters are when they hear an initial description of the plan) and 31% oppose (just four points higher). Intensity remains on the support side of the issue (34% strongly support vs. just 21% strongly oppose).

Notice they didn’t say what those negative arguments were. I can’t help but wonder if they tested the “Because… Madigan will eventually raise your taxes!” line.

Also, keep in mind that the opponents only have to keep the “Yes” votes under 60 percent to win at the ballot box (assuming it gets there), or under 50 percent of all people voting in the 2020 election. 63 percent is awful close.

* Methodology

Global Strategy Group conducted a statewide telephone survey between March 8th and March 12, 2019 among 800 registered voters. The survey had a margin of error of +/-3.5%. Care has been taken to ensure the geographic and demographic divisions of the population of registered voters are properly represented.

* Related…



I put the accompanying press release for that event in the live coverage post.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

36 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 1:11 pm:

    I imagine the first obstacle is the House. No slam dunk there. But it would be very tough to be the one or two Dem House members who kept it off the ballot.

    If it gets through the GA, there’s a long time until November 2020 to sell it.


  2. - RNUG - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 1:12 pm:

    Said all along that JB has to sell it just like Olgivie sold the need for the original income tax.


  3. - RNUG - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 1:14 pm:

    == I imagine the first obstacle is the House. ==

    Guess I see it differently. All the House and Senate would be doing is allowing the voters to choose.


  4. - lake county democrat - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 1:15 pm:

    I don’t think they can stop it, but if they have a shot, it’s something beyond “Madigan” - maybe go back to the “temporary” income tax hike and run ads saying “you trusted them then, and they betrayed you. Why trust them again?”


  5. - California Guy - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 1:16 pm:

    Opposition could just intensely lobby a few Dems in higher income districts to pull a Jeff Flake and oppose.


  6. - Kitten - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 1:25 pm:

    “Fair tax” is a really weird name to me, but maybe I’m too cynically aware of the misuse of words like fair in politics.


  7. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 1:26 pm:

    –Guess I see it differently. All the House and Senate would be doing is allowing the voters to choose.–

    Sixty percent on anything remotely controversial is a heavy lift, especially if there are no GOP votes.


  8. - Responsa - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 1:39 pm:

    ==“Fair tax” is a really weird name to me, =

    Thank you. I agree. “Fair Tax” sounds more like a bad advertising slogan than a serious policy effort.


  9. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 1:42 pm:

    “You can bet your house that those supportive GOP voters will be targeted heavily by the opposition.”

    First, I agree that the House may be the first obstacle, based partially on history. Didn’t the Senate pass the millionaire surcharge only for it to fail in the House? Here’s hoping that the current House will generate the 71 votes.

    Pritzker should target Republican voters. It’s tax cuts—meaning less of the 97 percent’s money going to the government many think is mishandling money. Isn’t that what the anti-tax screaming is all about?

    Many people value social services, schools and paying bills, so the message of tax cuts plus funding schools and the rest should be pretty strong.


  10. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 1:59 pm:

    ===only for it to fail in the House? ===

    Nobody was whipping the vote.

    And Jack Franks and Scott Drury voted “No” and Ken Dunkin was conveniently absent.

    It’s a different House now and a new governor.


  11. - Twirling Towards Freedom - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 2:04 pm:

    I still don’t get the “Madigan will eventually raise your taxes” argument. Madigan (well, the Democrats) can already raise taxes on anyone they want to. As a middle class person, you are much more likely to see a tax increase if the graduated tax proposal fails than if it succeeds. JB could just come out and say if the proposal fails there will be a flat tax increase, as that would be the only option short of draconian budget cuts.


  12. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 2:07 pm:

    ===I still don’t get the “Madigan will eventually raise your taxes” argument===

    That’s because you’re over-thinking it.


  13. - Anonymous - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 2:14 pm:

    “97% of Illinois residents would not see a state income tax increase.”

    Won’t see much of the promised tax relief either.


  14. - Annonin' - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 2:21 pm:

    Wait til Mr/Ms TwirlingTowardsFreedom start getting the messages that GOPies raised taxes more thas Ds
    Will not be pretty


  15. - curtis - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 2:24 pm:

    Think big: “97% of Illinois residents would not see a state income tax increase”

    Pritzker gov office press release: “97 Percent of Taxpayers Getting Tax Relief”

    That’s a huge difference in phrasing with likely substantial polling result differences.


  16. - City Zen - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 2:31 pm:

    No question on the Marriage Penalty?


  17. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 2:38 pm:

    “Won’t see much of the promised tax relief either.”

    Let the voters have the final say. If the tax cuts are insignificant, the voters will let everyone know. Why are right wingers so scared of getting the fair tax on the ballot? Why not put it on the ballot if it’s such a terrible idea, so voters can reject it?


  18. - Anon - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 2:42 pm:

    The “fair tax” name has always been associated with a flat tax in politics.

    It is weird he chose a brand name for the progressive tax that has such a direct link to the flat tax he is looking to replace.

    Someone didn’t do their homework in JB’s office.


  19. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 2:45 pm:

    ===Someone didn’t do their homework in JB’s office===

    That was the poll-tested label when Harmon introduced it a few years ago. Take a breath.


  20. - Old Illini - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 2:54 pm:

    ==Fair Tax==

    The FairTax is a proposal to reform the federal tax code of the United States. It would replace all federal income taxes, payroll taxes, gift taxes, and estate taxes with a single broad national consumption tax on retail sales. Wikipedia


  21. - RNUG - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 3:07 pm:

    I’ve never liked the Fair Tax label.

    They might have to switch to Millionaires Tax to properly market it.


  22. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 3:44 pm:

    “I’ve never liked the Fair Tax label.”

    I think it’s fine. It is about fundamental fairness: the rich being taxed more and the rest getting tax cuts.

    “If J.B wants it to be fair bring that 3.5 billion back into Illinois from off shore so we can all be fair.”

    It’s over. This attack was tried in the election and it failed miserably. Why not blame Madigan, too?


  23. - Anonymous - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 3:47 pm:

    City Zen - no question about the tooth fairy either.


  24. - WH Mess - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 3:50 pm:

    I can’t wait to see the David Harris ad in favor of the amendment. Bipartisan, veteran, fairness, pay our bills, etc.


  25. - City Zen - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 3:50 pm:

    ==no question about the tooth fairy either.==

    Is he/she married?


  26. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 4:29 pm:

    –If J.B wants it to be fair bring that 3.5 billion back into Illinois from off shore so we can all be fair.–

    Tell us more about that $3.5 billion off-shore. Please don’t leave out any specifics, because you sound really informed on the subject.

    What’s a “shister” anyway? I’m not done on all the cool-kid slurs.


  27. - You Bet - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 4:51 pm:

    Wordslinger is right. This is far from being a done deal in the House. Zero votes from the GOP is a given. Lots of D’s holding traditional R seats now. The few deep Downstate D’s that are left are no guarantee. Costello just passed over for IDNR Director as orchestrated by the Enviro left crowd, no way he helps, for example. A couple of others are thought to be NO votes (Yingling?).

    HEAVY lifting to be done here. Speaker will not call a bill of this magnitude unless 71 votes are assured. Far from a done deal.


  28. - You Bet - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 4:56 pm:

    Also - LOTS of palm greasing coming up from even “yes” votes in the House. The hold out until you get what you want game will be in full bloom.


  29. - Rabid - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 6:23 pm:

    Keep it simple, the vote was on the millionaire tax, graduated tax, fair tax will confuse low information voters thinking it has to do with caps and gowns or show animails


  30. - Rabid - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 7:19 pm:

    Negative arguments,no flat tax no trickle down


  31. - Anon - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 7:29 pm:

    Smart idea to conflate the amendment (which only permits a graduated tax) with current proposed rates. Nice push poll.


  32. - Mike - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 7:32 pm:

    I can’t vote for anything that penalizes marriages.

    Why are we creating a disincentive for married couples? Is it fair that two adults who cohabitate pay less than two who are married?


  33. - Rabid - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 7:32 pm:

    The madigan haters can make mike pay more with a yes


  34. - Rabid - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 8:03 pm:

    Advocating for the 3% marriage penalty will define the party platform


  35. - City Zen - Monday, Mar 18, 19 @ 9:02 pm:

    ==Advocating for the 3% marriage penalty==

    For anyone filing married jointly at any income level, it’s 100% marriage penalty.


  36. - Rabid - Tuesday, Mar 19, 19 @ 7:01 am:

    When you have a boarder do you both claim head of household


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