Fifty-five percent of likely voters would vote against the proposal to raise the severance tax on natural gas, according to a new Talk Business-Hendrix College Poll.
Here's the breakdown:
17% Don’t Know
But here's how the poll question was framed:
Q: A proposal to raise the severance tax on natural gas to 7% may be on the November ballot. The money from the increase would be used for highway and road construction and repairs, according to the proposal. Those opposed say the increase could reduce natural gas jobs in Arkansas’ Fayetteville Shale region. If the election were today, would you vote to raise the severance tax for this purpose?
That jobs line undoubtedly skewed the results a bit. Of course, with the money the Chamber and the natural gas lobby are putting towards defeating the measure, voters will certainly be familiar with that argument should it reach the ballot.
More heartening: The Regnant Populus measure that would change (for the better) Arkansas campaign and ethics law has broad support in the poll. If only it had the same big-money backers as the anti-severance tax camp.
Also considered: The half-cent sales tax for state highways. It got 41.5% yes, 50.5% no and 8% don't know in the poll.
Hendrix professor and Times columnist Jay Barth helped design and analyze the poll. His takeaway on the highway tax:
“I think the question will be what kind of investment is made by the proponents of this measure, which was sent out by the legislature for a vote. It’s possible that a very ardent campaign for this could turn it around, but I think it’s a tough battle. Gov. Beebe could be a difference-maker. If he became publicly against this — based on the numbers we’ve seen for him — it would be really devastated.”