Lansing – Voters in Michigan are unhappy with the new pension tax and may seek payback at the polls according to a recent statewide survey conducted by Marketing Resource Group (MRG) and Inside Michigan Politics (IMP). Fifty-four percent of Michigan voters say they are less likely to vote for a candidate who supported the pension tax, 16 percent a little less likely, and 39 percent much less likely. Opposition to candidates supporting the tax was strong in all geographic regions and across all age groups. Not surprisingly, the strongest opposition was among Democrats, blue collar, and retired voters with 50 percent, 47 percent, and 44 percent saying they were much less likely to support candidates supporting the pension tax.

In addition to their unhappiness with the pension tax, voters in Michigan are feeling the tax pinch at both the state and federal levels. Forty-five percent said their state taxes had gone up in the last year and 41 percent said their federal taxes had gone up. Sixteen percent said their state and federal taxes had gone up a lot.

“Democrats think their state taxes have gone up to a greater degree than their federal taxes while Republicans believe their federal taxes have gone up more than their state taxes,” said Bill Ballenger, Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics. “Despite the partisan differences, it is clear that voters are feeling the pinch and this could pose problems for some incumbents next fall.”

The exact wording of the questions and the results are below.

As you may know, a new pension tax was passed by the state Legislature and Governor in 2011 and went into effect last year in Michigan. Under this new tax, everyone younger than 67 now pays a higher tax on income from their pension or 401k accounts and public pensions are no longer exempt from taxes. Pensions for those 67 or older, Social Security income and military pensions remain exempt. Supporters of the new tax say we were one of the few states without such a tax and that it is needed to balance the state budget. Will you be more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate for state office if you learned that he or she supported the new pension tax, or does it make no difference to you? (IF MORE/ LESS LIKELY ASK: Would you say you would be much (more/less) likely or just somewhat (more/less) likely to vote for that candidate?)

Much More Likely: 4%
Somewhat More Likely: 9%
Makes No Difference: 29%
Somewhat Less Likely: 16%
Much Less Likely: 39%
Don’t know (Volunteered): 4%
Refused (Volunteered): *

TOTAL MORE LIKELY: 13%
TOTAL LESS LIKELY: 54%

Over the past year, have your state taxes gone up, gone down or stayed about the same? (IF UP/DOWN ASK: Have they gone (up/down) a lot or just a little?)

Gone Up A Lot: 16%
Gone Up A Little: 30%
Stayed the same: 37%
Gone Down A Little: 4%
Gone Down A Lot: 1%
Don’t know (Volunteered): 13%
Refused (Volunteered): 0%

TOTAL GONE UP: 46%
TOTAL GONE DOWN: 4%

Over the past year, have your federal taxes gone up, gone down or stayed about the same? (IF UP/DOWN ASK: Have they gone (up/down) a lot or just a little?)

Gone Up A Lot: 16%
Gone Up A Little: 25%
Stayed the same: 43%
Gone Down A Little: 3%
Gone Down A Lot: 1%
Don’t know (Volunteered): 13%
Refused (Volunteered): 0%

TOTAL GONE UP: 41%
TOTAL GONE DOWN: 3%

Marketing Resource Group’s Spring 2013 MRG Michigan Poll was conducted March 17 through March 23. The poll was conducted by live professionally trained telephone interviewers. The random sample, consisting of 600 likely voters who indicated that they will be voting in the November general election, has a margin of error of ±4 percentage points or less within a 95 percent degree of confidence.

The cluster sample was drawn from a list of voters likely to vote in the November general elections, which is determined by their participation in previous statewide general elections. The individuals included in that list and their voting histories are updated monthly. The poll sample is stratified by statewide voter turnout and is geographically representative of general election voter turnout in Michigan. 20 percent of the respondents are likely voters who live in cell phone-only households. Those respondents were manually dialed, contacted and interviewed on their cell-phones and they indicated that they do not have a land line telephone in their homes.

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