Patriot News Title Recapping Pitt Trib Poll Was Plain Wrong

Posted on January 6, 2011. Filed under: General Politics, General Surveys, PA Executive Branch |

On January 4, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review released a statewide poll they commissioned our firm to conduct testing the attitudes and opinions of Pennsylvania voters on various issues facing the state.  One such question dealt with the expected multi-million dollar budget deficit for Pennsylvania (estimated to be $4 to $5 billion), and voters were asked to choose what they believed was the best way to solve the state’s budget problems from a list that included A) continuing to make significant cuts in popular state programs and services; B) raising some taxes or fees as a way to lessen the impact on cuts in programs or services, or C) a combination of the two (meaning both spending cuts as well as some new taxes and/or fees).   The results, first reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, showed that 56 percent of voters chose “some combination of spending cuts and increases in taxes and/or fees”, making this the most popular answer given.  In comparison, only 23% chose the answer “continue to make significant cuts in programs or services”.  What is disconcerting is that a follow-up story about the poll appearing January 5th in the Harrisburg Patriot News, written by Kari Andren, was eroneously entitled “Voters Believe Corbett Will Raise Taxes”.   This is just plain wrong and not only misleading but a disservice to the public, Gov-Corbett, our polling firm and even Patriot News Reporter Kari Andren who even reported the results in both an accurate and professional manner.

The fact is that just because 56 percent of voters stated they believe some combination of spending cuts and tax increases would be needed to balance the budget”, this in no way, shape or form led us to conclude that voters “believe Corbett will raise taxes”.  The question had absolutely nothing to do with Gov.-elect Corbett’s “intent” or what voters believe he intends or does not intend to do.  Rather, voters were asked to give their own ideas about what they thought would be the right mix of solutions to solving the projected state budget deficit.  To twist their answer into the notion that they believe Corbett will raise taxes is not only ludicrious, but unprofessional because it suggests that Corbett has been untruthful in his public statements on the issue.  I mean come on, the guy hasn’t even been officially sworn in yet and probably is at a disadvantage to even defend himself against this kind of slant.  So given how much influence these types of stories can have on voters’ opinions of our elected leaders, we think it is important to try to set the record straight so this kind of mistake can be avoided in the future.  Our elected leaders and certainly the public deserve much better.

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