Today at lunch, one committee room in the Capitol was packed tight as legislators, lobbyists, and staff crowded in. Politicos of all stripes can’t help themselves. They all just have to hear the latest polling numbers and the Rasmuson Foundation had them. In a “lunch and learn” session sponsored by the House Finance Committee attendees heard Rasmuson Board Member Jeff Cook and President and CEO DIanne Kaplan walk legislators through polling they had conducted with the help of polling firm Strategies 360 between January 3-10 on state budget issues.
Here is our quick breakdown of 10 takeaways from Rasmuson’s state budget polling:
- Alaskans know the state has a budget problem. Almost 70% responded they have heard at least “a fair amount” about it. That is pretty good for a public policy issue.
- Alaskans are concerned about the state’s budget problems. 73% say they are extremely/fairly concerned. That is up 10 points since similar polling last July.
- This is an interesting slide. On the surface it just gives context to who isn’t paying attention to Alaska’s budget problems. Oddly enough, the groups shown as “unaware” just happen to be the same groups who tend not to vote. Don’t think legislators didn’t notice. The unspoken code from Rasmuson to legislators in this slide is “during the rest of the presentation when we say “of those aware” or “of those who have heard about” what we mean is “of those who will even consider voting in the next election.”
- Two points on this slide 1. Oil tax increases are pretty popular, which has to make folks at AOGA, RDC, and The Alliance pretty nervous. 2. People are more willing to like fiscal decisions they think won’t hit them personally.
- An odd slide set. The first says 49% of Alaskans would oppose changes that would reduce their Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) to $1,000. The second slide says 68% would find such a move “acceptable.” The message here may be Alaskans don’t want to cut into their PFD, but if it happens they’ll live with it.
- The interesting thing here isn’t that 55% of Alaskans support the Governor’s fiscal plan, it’s that even among Republicans, more support it than oppose it. The Governor has to be loving this slide.
- It would seem not only has the message gotten across that the state has a budget problem, but maybe more importantly the problem is so big no one action can solve it. A vast majority of Alaskans believe both more cuts and new revenues are necessary.
- Draw your own conclusion about this slide. A sales tax is more popular in Anchorage than the rest of the state. Then again Anchorage is one of the few places in the state currently without a local sales tax.
- The way I read this slide is at least 76% of Alaskans have no earthly idea where or how to cut the budget. They just want it to magically happen and not affect them.
- This slide would seem to show Alaskans are pretty evenly divided among those who would support legislators who do what Rasmuson thinks needs done those who would punish them for it. This is where you have to dig into the numbers. The full breakdown of the questions shows this:
See that 32% in the “much less” column, it is higher than the “much more” and “somewhat more” numbers combined. That means this is where the passion is, and a passionate voter not only votes they tend to move others in their direction. What this may really show is a pocket of seething anger towards PFD cuts, spending cuts, and/or new taxes out there some unsuspecting incumbent may walk headlong into come election time.