Politics & Government

Elway Poll shows upbeat electorate, surprising support for cap-trade tax on polluters

New public-opinion reports from the Elway Poll show public views on taxation that might be surprising – given Washington state Republicans’ all-out attack on tax hikes that accompanied their electoral wins in the Legislature during the November elections.

But Stuart Elway said in a pair of poll reports released this week that voters are upbeat – scoring third highest in a decade on his in-house scale, and there is potential majority support for some of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s tax proposals, despite an overall hesitance on general tax increases.

Elway also found that education is the top concern of voters heading into next Monday’s legislative session, outranking the economy for the first time since the Great Recession began hitting in 2008.

On voter optimism, Elway indicated “the largest increase was the belief that things are getting better for the country; 60 percent thought things would get better for the country, up from 45 percent six months ago – a 26 percent swing in the positive direction.”

He also found nuanced views on taxes in a poll tied to the upcoming legislative session. Just 48 percent were in favor of general tax increases, and 49 percent were opposed. But some of Inslee’s tax proposals ranked well.

For instance: 71 percent favored a cap-and-trade tax plan putting a pollution fee on emitters of greenhouse gases linked to global warming; Inslee is proposing this to raise funds for K-12 schools and transportation projects. Another 77 percent favored a cigarette tax increase of 50 cents per pack.

And 57 percent favored a 7 percent capital gains tax on earnings from the sales of stocks or bonds that are in excess of $25,000 per individual; Inslee is proposing to raise nearly $800 million from this proposal affecting less than 1 percent of households.

The Legislature and taxes poll was done Dec. 27-30, surveyed 502 registered voters, and had an error margin of plus or minus 4.5 percent. The voter-mood poll was carried out with the same number of voters during Dec. 27-29 and had the same error margin.

Republicans hold an outright majority in the state Senate with 26 seats including one Democrat in their coalition to 23 seats for the minority; Democrats will hold a 51-to-47 seat majority in the House.