Tax hike opponents release poll showing mixed public support


Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks in support of Initiative 22, a tax hike for school funding, at a campaign kickoff event Thursday in Jefferson County.

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DENVER — A group of conservative activists fighting a ballot measure asking voters to approve a two-tiered income tax rate hike in order to generate $1 billion in added annual education funding released a poll Monday that shows mixed support for the initiative.

Amendment 66, which would help finance full-day kindergarten across the state and a host of other reforms, would lose among “informed voters” by a 52-38 percent margin, according to the poll of 600 Colorado voters conducted by Magellan Strategies, a Republican polling outfit.

“This survey reconfirms there is no appetite for a statewide tax increase,” said Coloradans for Real Education Reform coalition member and former state Sen. Norma Anderson. “In the midst of a fragile recovery, pushing an unfair scheme like Amendment 66 won’t be received well by Coloradans.”

But the results themselves aren’t quite as clear as Coloradans for Real Education Reform, the group that paid for the poll, argue.

First off, the party weighting for this survey is set to 39% Republican, 34% Democrat and 27% unaffiliated — Magellan calls it a “good projection of 2013 turnout demographics”, and it may well be.

Initially, when respondents were asked about Amendment 66 without being told more about what it does, the initiative is losing by a 52-33 percent margin with men.

But, women supported it by a 42-37 percent margin and Hispanics favored it by a 53-34 percent margin.

Overall, “uninformed voters” opposed the measure by a 44-38 margin.

The opposition to the measure increases when respondents are more “informed” by the pollster about what Amendment 66 actually does.

With both women and Hispanic voters, the opposition rate rise 10 points: “informed” women oppose the proposal 47-41; “informed” Hispanics still support the initiative, but by a much narrower 47-44 percent margin.

But this makes sense when you realize that Magellan chose only to inform the poll respondents about half of Amendment 66, the tax hike part, without bothering to explain what that money pays for.

This is the question respondents were asked:

As you may know, if passed Amendment 66 will increase the individual state income tax rate on all Coloradans. If an individual’s annual income is 75 thousand dollars or less their state income tax rate increases from 4.63% to 5%. If an individual’s annual income is more than 75 thousand dollars their state income tax rate increases from 4.63% to 5.9%. Knowing this information, do you support or oppose Amendment 66?

Liberals have been mocking the poll and Magellan itself — the firm released polls in 2010 showing third-party gubernatorial also-ran Tom Tancredo within a point of Democrat John Hickenlooper (he lost by double-digits) and GOP congressional candidate Ryan Frazier defeating Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter (he lost, also by double-digits).

Republicans, meanwhile, continue urging Amendment 66 supporters to go public with a poll that they’ve claimed shows the measure with wider support across the state.

But, while the numbers do little more than offer ammo for another fleeting political food fight, the poll is still instructive in one way.

It shows that if Coloradans focus on the tax hike itself, not the educational reforms the additional revenue would fund, Amendment 66 is likely to lose.

That isn’t news to Colorado Commits to Kids, the organization formed to support the measure; moreover, it’s precisely why the group is looking to raise $10 million in contributions to fund a campaign to convince Coloradans that the education reforms, already approved by the legislature earlier this year, are worth more of their hard-earned money.

And that’s a much heavier lift than convincing them otherwise.

“The only results that matter will be delivered after voting centers close and ballots are counted on Nov. 5,” said Vote Yes on 66 campaign spokesman Curtis Hubbard. “Between now and then, we expect a majority of voters will decide to support making the small investment necessary to deliver smaller class sizes and the one-on-one attention that students throughout Colorado deserve.”

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