Whatever one thinks about the McDonnell transportation tax hike (and I can’t be certain whether Mr. Schoeneman’s support or my opposition is the majority position among the BD bloggers), neither Christopher Newport University and the Daily Press acquitted themselves well in trying to reveal the opinions of Virginians on the subject.
CNU’s Wason Center announced that its poll on the subject found 63% support for the plan. Unfortunately, the question that was asked regarding the plan was this:
The gas tax – the primary way transportation is funded in Virginia – will generate less revenue in the future as vehicles become more fuel-efficient and use less gas. In response to this, Governor McDonnell has proposed eliminating the gas tax altogether and replacing it with an increase in the state sales tax rate from 5% to 5.8%. The Governor argues this will provide more funding for transportation in the future because as the economy grows sales tax revenue will also grow. Do you [RANDOMIZE: “support” or “oppose”] replacing the gas tax with an increased sales tax?
Two things jump out at me. First, there is no mention of the internet sales tax. Given that this accounts for over a third of the money for roads in the plan, it should have at least been included. Second, while the question mentions “more funding for transportation”, it does not specifically acknowledge that the higher gas tax will take more money out of Virginians’ pockets than the gas tax does. To call the question incomplete is an understatement.
Still, as bad as that was, the Daily Press made things infinitely worse by getting the results wrong.
The DP headline says it all, “Poll: Many Virginians support ending gas tax, even more support raising it.” From the story itself, we get this: “…66 percent also supported raising the gas tax to increase transportation funding.”
There’s only one problem…the poll clearly states that 66% oppose raising the gas tax.
Incomplete poll + fouled-up MSM story = badly confusing account of the viewpoints of Virginians