Presentation on theme: "220-3686 Key Findings from a Countywide Voter Survey Conducted November 21-25, 2013."— Presentation transcript:
220-3686 Key Findings from a Countywide Voter Survey Conducted November 21-25, 2013
2 Survey Methodology Telephone interviews with 400 randomly-selected Benton County registered voters likely to cast a ballot in the November 2014 election Respondents were reached via both landline and cellular telephones The full sample margin of error is ±4.9% at the 95% confidence interval The margin of error for population subgroups will be higher Some figures may not sum to 100% due to rounding
4 2a & b. I am going to read you a list of some people and organizations that are active in public life. Please tell me whether you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of that person or organization. If you have never heard of the person or group I mention, or if do not have enough information to have an opinion, you can tell me that too. Split Sample Most have a favorable opinion of the Parks Department and the Board of Commissioners. 60% 53%
5 7. I’m going to read you a list of issues, and I’d like you to tell me how serious a problem you think each one is in your area. Please tell me if you think it is an extremely serious problem, a very serious problem, a somewhat serious problem, a not too serious problem, or not at all a serious problem. ^Not Part of Split Sample Government waste, job cuts at Hanford, and public education are top concerns. Ext./ Very Ser. 58% 44% 36% 30% 32% Government waste and mismanagement Job cuts at Hanford Nuclear Reservation The quality of public education ^ The amount of taxes people pay to local government Toxic pollution of rivers, lakes and creeks
7 BENTON COUNTY CONSERVATION FUTURES TAX FOR PARKS, TRAILS, RIVERS, NATURAL AREAS AND OPEN SPACE. This proposition would authorize the Benton County Board of Commissioners to create the Conservation Futures Fund exclusively for the purpose of acquiring park land and open space, preserving and maintaining agricultural land, conserving wildlife habitat, and increasing recreation and educational opportunities and to levy an additional regular property tax of six-and-one-quarter cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation for ten years, (Half Sample: “or $11 per year for the average household,”) subject to published, annual independent financial audits. Simulated Ballot Language Tested
8 3. If the vote on this proposition were held today, would you vote to approve or reject it? A majority of voters initially supports the proposal, especially when the cost impact is clear. Total Yes 59% Total No 36% Definitely approve Probably approve Undecided, lean approve Undecided, lean reject Probably reject Definitely reject Undecided $11 per YearNo Cost InformationTotal Total Yes 50% Total No 39% Total Yes 54% Total No 38%
9 (% of Sample) (39%) Initial Vote by County Commission District (31%) (30%) 3 TOTAL. If the vote on this proposition were held today, would you vote to approve or reject it? A majority of voters in each County Commission District supports the measure.
10 (% of Sample) (37%) Initial Vote by City (19%) (13%) 3 TOTAL. If the vote on this proposition were held today, would you vote to approve or reject it? A plurality supports the measure in each major city and the unincorporated areas. (31%)
11 Q4a. In a few words of your own, can you please tell me why you APPROVE this proposal? Most supporters say they want to protect open space and maintain public access to parks and outdoor recreation. (Open Ended; Responses Grouped)
12 Q4b. (Open-ended) In a few words of your own, can you please tell me why you REJECT this proposal? A majority of those who reject the proposition do so because they oppose new taxes. (Open Ended; Responses Grouped)
13 Q6. Total Supp. Total Opp. 56%36% 47%48% 35%61% Support for the Conservation Futures Fund is on par with a potential County sales tax increase for the Criminal Justice Center. In addition to the open space proposition we have been discussing, there may be several other local propositions that appear on ballot in an upcoming election. I am going to read you short descriptions of a couple of these possible propositions, and for each one please tell me if you would support or oppose it.
14 Q5. Total Approve 67% 61% 52% More than three in five voters would back the measure at its projected cost of $11 per year. Suppose this proposition to protect open space and agricultural land, conserve wildlife habitat and increase recreation and educational opportunities would cost the average Benton County homeowner ________. If that were the case, would you vote to approve or reject the proposition?
15 Q8a/b/d. ^Not Part of Split Sample. Total More Lkly. Total Less Lkly. 68%13% 61%12% 59%13% Two-thirds would be more inclined to support the proposition knowing it would make Benton County eligible for matching grants. I am going to read a list of provisions that could be included in this proposition. Please tell me whether you would be more likely or less likely to support the proposition if that feature were included.
16 Total More Likely 57% Total Less Likely 16% Most voters say that including a 10-year time limit would make them more likely to support the measure. 8 c/e. I am going to read a list of provisions that could be included in this proposition. Please tell me whether you would be more likely or less likely to support the proposition if that feature were included. Split Sample Impact of Including a 10-Year Sunset Provision
17 9c/h/i/n/p/q/v. I am going to read you a list of specific projects that might be funded through a ballot proposition to maintain and improve county parks, expand local trail systems, protect rivers and preserve open space in Benton County. Please tell me how important it is to you that that project be funded: extremely important, very important, somewhat important, or not important. Split Sample The top priorities for conservation funding include habitat, farmland, and land around local rivers, lakes and streams. (Extremely/Very Important)
18 If this proposition is approved, the Benton County Board of Commissioners could create a larger pool of funding upfront by using annual revenues from the Conservation Futures Fund to sell bonds. This would allow the County to take advantage of significant land acquisition opportunities that may arise over the next couple of years in order to preserve open space and natural areas. Do you favor or oppose the Board of Commissioners taking this action? 12. Do you favor or oppose the Board of Commissioner taking this action? Nearly three in five voters favor using funds raised to sell bonds to speed up open space acquisition.
20 The most effective “pro” messages integrate the themes of maintaining Benton County’s unique natural areas and outdoor recreational opportunities. 10c/d/h. Here are some statements from people who support this ballot proposition. Please tell me whether you find it to be a very convincing, somewhat convincing, or not too convincing reason to vote yes on this proposition. If you do not believe the statement you can tell me that too. Split Sample (PRIDE) For years, local volunteers have taken great pride in building and maintaining local trails and open space. And today, use of natural areas is rapidly increasing – in four years visits to Badger Mountain trails went from 30,000 to 180,000. This proposition will protect and expand public access to quality outdoor recreation. (FUTURE) Protecting open space, natural areas and wildlife habitats will protect our area’s natural beauty and quality of life for future generations, so our children and grandchildren can enjoy it the same way we do. (RECREATION) As development continues, we need to protect open space and make sure residents have access to outdoor activities that promote a high quality of life, fitness and better health. 81% 80% 81%
21 This property tax increase, being pushed by environmentalists, would stop new business investment in Benton County, block job creation and prevent economic growth. With tens of thousands of acres of national parks in the mid- Columbia region there is no need for this proposition, especially when families are struggling to make ends meet and with major job cuts at Hanford. Tax dollars should be used for higher priorities, like public safety, education, and repairing roads. Opposition Message Tested
22 3/11/13. If the vote on this proposition were held today, would you vote to approve or reject it? Total Support Total Oppose Undecided $11 per YearNo Cost InformationTotal Even after an opposition message, most voters remain supportive.
24 Conclusions Unsurprisingly, the survey shows that efforts to pass a conservation futures tax in Benton County face a conservative electorate with some innate skepticism about new taxes. At the same time, the survey shows that a number of factors provide a favorable context for a conservation futures measure: High levels of park and trail usage among local voters Positive regard for public and private organizations that advocate for conservation A fiscal impact that most voters clearly find manageable A few particular projects that inspire more widespread voter enthusiasm The net effect of these factors is a measure that achieves initial majority support (54%). These numbers can be improved – the survey models a strong “yes” campaign and only minimal opposition, and in that context support rises to three in five voters polled (61%).
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