Sunday, July 20, 2014

Hellenthal Probes Alaskan Opinion On Four 2014 Alaska Ballot Measures; Passage Of Minimum Wage Increase Could Be A Slam Dunk

Although there has been much publicity, both partisan and non-partisan, on four statewide ballot measures Alaskan voters will be weighing in on this year, there's been little feedback from pollsters upon the effects of the publicity so far. The one recent exception is a poll commissioned by Hellenthal from June 17-28 which got little media publicity. During that period, Hellenthal interviewed 392 Alaskan voters, 46.2 percent with cellular phones and 53.8 percent with landlines. Hellenthal asked numerous questions about the various candidate races, but they also quizzed voters on their attitude towards the four ballot measures.

The raw results are posted on an 11-page PDF, but are jumbled and difficult to read, so I will re-publish the results for the ballot measures below. Click on the paragraph headings to read specific ballot language:

Ballot Measure #1 - (13SB21) An Act Relating to the Oil and Gas Production Tax, Interest Rates on Overdue Taxes, and Tax Credit. A Yes vote will repeal SB21. This is the only ballot measure on the ballot for the August 19th Primary Election:

-- Strongly Favor: 21.6 percent
-- Somewhat Favor: 15.9 percent
-- Neutral/Don't Know: 26.7 percent
-- Somewhat Oppose: 12.9 percent
-- Strongly Oppose: 22.9 percent

Analysis: A two-point spread between positive and negative makes this a toss-up. Despite the voluminous publicity, over a quarter of voters are still undecided. What could push them into the No camp is the reminder that if Ballot Measure 1 passes, it would result in the fourth different oil tax scheme in a six-year period. Imagine if you were a business owner, and business taxes changed four times in six years. How could you plan future investments and expenditures with reasonable confidence?

Ballot Measure #2 (13PSUM) - An Act to Tax and Regulate the Production, Sale and Use of Marijuana. Rights of employers to restrict marijuana use by employees and rights of property owners to restrict marijuana use on their premises are protected. A Yes vote will permit the regulation and sale of recreational marijuana in Alaska. This ballot measure will not appear during the Primary Election, but only during the November 4th General Election.

-- Strongly Favor: 29.0 percent
-- Somewhat Favor: 19.2 percent
-- Neutral: 4.8 percent
-- Somewhat Oppose: 12.8 percent
-- Strongly Oppose: 34.2 percent

Analysis: This one's also a virtual tossup (48-47 in favor), but few are undecided. The strength of the opposition is surprising, and can be attributable to some unlikely players coming out in opposition, most notably former Alaska State Democratic Party Chair Deborah Williams.

Ballot Measure #3 (13MINW) - An Act to Increase Alaska’s Minimum Wage. A Yes vote would raise Alaska’s minimum wage from $7.75 per hour to $8.75 per hour as of January 1, 2015, and again to $9.75 per hour as of January 1, 2016. The bill would also adjust the minimum wage each year for inflation after 2016. This ballot measure will not appear during the Primary Election, but only during the November 4th General Election.

-- Strongly Favor: 50.0 percent
-- Somewhat Favor: 25.1 percent
-- Neutral: 3.7 percent
-- Somewhat Oppose: 8.6 percent
-- Strongly Oppose: 12.5 percent

Analysis: This looks like a slam dunk for passage with a 75-21 lead, and much of the blame can be attributed to the national Republican Party's failure to confront and combat the excesses of plutocracy and the growing income gap. Many national Republicans have also signed on to amnesty for illegal immigrants, who take jobs Americans could do. The only prominent Republican to have consistently condemned crony capitalism is Sarah Palin. I could support this measure if it was limited to a single wage hike and then inflation indexing thereafter; having two one-dollar jumps in two years will hinder hiring efforts by small business.

Ballot Measure #4 (12BBAY) - An Act Providing for Protection of Bristol Bay Wild Salmon and Waters Within or Flowing Into the Existing 1972 Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve. A Yes vote would require the legislature to approve future large-scale metallic sulfide mines in the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve (BBFR) by passing a law. The law would have to find that any proposed mine would not endanger the BBFR fishery. The approval would be in addition to any other required permits or authorizations. This ballot measure will not appear during the Primary Election, but only during the November 4th General Election.

-- Strongly Favor: 32.8 percent
-- Somewhat Favor: 13.1 percent
-- Neutral: 13.2 percent
-- Somewhat Oppose: 14.4 percent
-- Strongly Oppose: 26.5 percent

Analysis: Close, but passage seems likely. This measure primarily asks the state legislature to exercise stronger oversight over the prospective Pebble Mine.

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