Thursday, May 11, 2006

Greedy - that word fits.

Cass wrote from eastern Pa to point out a new poll.
Did you see this poll that shows when asked, Pennsylvanians most often called the state legislature "greedy?" It's a big deal, especially since those polled weren't given multiple choice answers - they came up with the word on their own. Other words used to describe them include “crook,” “poor,” and “corrupt.”

IssuesPA/Pew Poll Shows Pennsylvanians

Dissatisfied with State Direction

Pennsylvanians Have Mostly Bad Things to Say About the State Legislature

May 10, 2006 (Harrisburg, PA) – A new IssuesPA/Pew poll shows that close to half (49 percent) of all Pennsylvanians are dissatisfied with the direction of the state, compared to just 43 percent who are satisfied with the state’s direction. These are the most negative ratings recorded in an IssuesPA/Pew poll since August 2004. These results also show the widespread nature of the dissatisfaction – reaching more than 50 percent in four of the six regions in the state; only one month ago, dissatisfaction was over 50% in only one region.

The poll also shows that rising gas prices are one factor behind Pennsylvanians’ growing dissatisfaction. Mentions of high gas/fuel prices as the most important problem facing the state have doubled in the past month (13 percent now versus six percent in March).

Views of the Legislature

When asked for a one-word description that best describes the legislature, the largest number of Pennsylvanians (69 respondents) said, “greedy.” Though the top ten list of responses includes some positive or neutral words like “good,” “okay,” and “fair,” most have a negative connotation such as “crook,” “poor,” and “corrupt.”

Only a quarter (26 percent) of Pennsylvania residents feel they can trust the legislature to do what is right just about always or most of the time. Nearly seven in ten (67 percent) feel they can be trusted only some of the time or never.

Pennsylvanians’ negative perception of the legislature might carry over into this year’s elections, as two-thirds (66 percent) of voters say that an incumbent state legislator’s vote on the pay raise should be a very important issue in this year’s legislative elections

“The well-reported furor over the Legislative pay raise appears to be having a lasting effect,” said Larry Hugick of PSRAI. “Pennsylvanians express low confidence in the state legislature as whole but have more positive opinions of their own state representatives.


Education has emerged as a key issue in the 2006 elections. Most voters (85 percent) say that making sure high school graduates have the skills they need for college or a career will be very important in determining their vote in the gubernatorial and legislative races this year. Eighty-one percent say that making sure children have a similar opportunity for a quality education regardless of where they live will be very important. Voters were asked to rate the importance of 30 different issues this spring. Only one other issue – providing health care for uninsured children – was rated “very important” by 80 percent or more of the respondents.

Across Pennsylvania, most residents (56 percent) agree that financing education should be the responsibility of the state government. However, a similar majority (53 percent) want local school officials to be in charge of ensuring that public schools provide a quality education.

Gubernatorial Race Still Wide Open

The poll asked Pennsylvania voters about their chances of voting for Ed Rendell and Lynn Swann in the November gubernatorial election. Based on their responses to two questions, three in 10 (30%) voters are likely to support Rendell, another three in 10 (29%) are likely support Swann, and four in 10 (40%) are classified as swing voters, not strongly committed to either candidate. The new poll shows more voters on the fence than the March 2006 poll; the number of swing voters has increased by six percentage points.

Other Findings

Three in four (75 percent) voters statewide say the candidates’ positions on how to best control state spending will be very important to their vote.

More than two-thirds (71 percent) of voters say the candidates’ positions on how to best provide a tax system that is fair, adequate and pro-growth will be very important to their voting decision.

About half (52 percent) think the issue of helping cities and towns solve their financial problems should be very important.

Most Pennsylvanians (63 percent) do not think local communities without their own police department should be charged a service fee for state police protection.

Residents have many reasons for disliking local property taxes. Even numbers of Pennsylvanians (21 percent) say their main complaint about property taxes is that they make home ownership unaffordable and don’t specifically take household income into account.

In terms of reducing the property tax rates, the two least acceptable alternatives are expanding the state sales tax base (27 percent) and increasing the local wage tax (25 percent).

More than a third of Pennsylvanians (38 percent) think that conditions affecting their region’s economic performance have gotten worse in the past four years.

“There are a number of issues that matter to Pennsylvanians, and many of them may be important factors in the 2006 elections,” said Steven Wray, Project Director of IssuesPA and Deputy Director of the Pennsylvania Economy League’s office in Philadelphia. “The candidates’ positions on taxes, jobs and education may be key in deciding what could be a very close race.”
More pointers and details in the comments.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

About the Poll

Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI) conducted the poll for IssuesPA, the non-partisan statewide awareness project focused on raising the issues most critical to Pennsylvania’s economic future. Funding for the survey was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The margin of error is plus/minus three percentage points.

The April 2006 IssuesPA/Pew Poll, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Economy League and The Pew Charitable Trusts, was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Telephone interviews were conducted from April 17 – 26, 2006 with 1,503 Pennsylvania adults, age 18 and over, of which 1,191 identified themselves as registered voters. The results have been statistically weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The overall margin of sampling error for results is plus or minus three percentage points.

IssuesPA is a nonpartisan statewide awareness project focused exclusively on raising the issues most critical to Pennsylvania's economic future. The Pennsylvania Economy League initially launched IssuesPA to promote issue awareness around the 2002 gubernatorial election. IssuesPA is now the leading resource on state-level issues and policies in Pennsylvania, coupled with a dynamic, multi-media outreach strategy. IssuesPA is funded in part by The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Heinz Endowments and the William Penn Foundation.

The Pennsylvania Economy League (PEL) is an independent, nonprofit public policy research organization. PEL is a force for positive change -- the state's leading regionally based, statewide public policy organization. Working with Pennsylvania’s public and private sectors, PEL provides independent research and insight on emerging issues to stimulate public and private action to make Pennsylvania a better place to live, work, and do business. PEL’s goal is to create a knowledgeable corporate and civic audience that will ensure the Commonwealth’s economic competitiveness.

The Pew Charitable Trusts ( serves the public interest by providing information, advancing policy solutions and supporting civic life. Based in Philadelphia, with an office in Washington, D.C., the Trusts will invest $204 million in fiscal year 2006 to provide organizations and citizens with fact-based research and practical solutions for challenging issues.

Additional Resources

Final Press Release

Articles (general poll article) (governance/poll article) (education/poll article) (property tax/poll article)

Major Findings