CF/KP Poll: 61% Support Liquor Privatization

BoozeBattleA poll commissioned by the conservative Commonwealth Foundation and the liberal website Keystone Politics found that most Pa. residents support plans to liberalize the sale of alcohol in Pa.

61% agreed with a proposal to “end government sale and distribution of wine and spirits” in Pa. 33% said they opposed it. 70% of Republicans and Independents were in support along with 54% of Democrats.

55% said they would be more likely to support a candidate for state legislature who supports privatization, 32% said they’d be less likely.

The market research firm Heart+Mind Strategies conducted the survey of 1,151 Pennsylvania residents ages 21 and older from Sept. 3 to 12. The margin of error is plus or minus 3%. The full results are here and here.

The Commonwealth Foundation free market think tank has long supported liquor privatization, as has Gov. Tom Corbett and many Republicans in the legislature.

Democrats largely oppose the measure, led by labor unions who represent employees of the current system.

But blogger Jon Getting of the left-leaning news and policy website Keystone Politics has challenged his ideological compatriots on this issue, arguing that the current rules unfairly prop up incumbent businesses.

Legislative efforts to privatize the liquor stores stalled in June but are likely to reemerge this fall.

The biggest problem facing privatization proponents: few residents are frustrated enough with the current system to prioritize privatization.

75% of respondents in this poll rated the performance of current stores good or excellent. 13% rated them “not so good” and 8% called them poor.

“That’s what I’ve noticed over the past few years of polling this issue,” said Dr. Terry Madonna, Director of the Franklin and Marshall College Poll. “Majority support, but no high degree of intensity. It’s why there’s not a lot of pressure on lawmakers to act.”

Just 5% of respondents in the most recent F&M poll said lawmakers should prioritize liquor privatization this fall. An April F&M poll showed that a plurality of registered voters, 47%, supported privatization while 40% opposed it.

As with any privately commissioned poll its results should be taken with a grain of salt. In this case, the key thing to note is that the results of this poll wouldn’t necessarily match voter opinions.

The pollster is a market research firm and did things differently than firms that primarily conduct political surveys. Respondents were Pennsylvania residents and the sample was not restricted to just registered voters – let alone was it restricted to likely voters.* Only adults at or over the age of 21 were included.

All that said, Commonwealth Foundation and Keystone Politics were totally transparent with the poll’s methodology and results, far beyond what it typical of interest groups.

*Update: The pollster said 92% of respondents meet the criteria of a likely voter and 68% said they definitely planned to vote in 2014.

7 Responses

  1. Really, John Geeting, the CF’s poll is unbiased and honest? A bunch of leading questions that make state employees look like boogymen, and you can that “honest? ” How about the F&M poll that found 57 percent of Pennsylvanians want to keep the W&S stores or modernize them? Was that “dishonest?” And as for your credibility, please tell us how much you paid for this poll, and how much the CF paid. While you’re at it, can you tell us who funds the CF? That would be a first.

  2. I’d like to see a poll on the issue that asked follow up questions like “If the privatization of liquor sales were to require a $500 million tax increase to make up for the lost revenue, would your opinion change?” and “Privatization in some states like Washington has resulted in higher prices and lower selection, how important are these to you and would your opinion change?”

    I’ve also noticed that liquor prices in the state stores actually are fairly competitive with neighboring states – sometimes we’re more expensive, sometimes we’re cheaper (of course, DE has the no-sales-tax advantage).

  3. The reason that we decided to get in on this poll is that I wanted to see what people’s responses would be when we asked them in an unbiased way where they would like to buy their alcohol. The fact that this poll’s questions are so thorough and unbiased has left the dead-ender cartel supporters with some extremely weak arguments, which I am pleased to see sputtering around in this comments section.

    As for me, while I’m sure John only has the best interests of my journalism career in mind, I think this is a good investment in our credibility. It shows we’re willing to publicly challenge our Democratic friends when we disagree, so people can trust us as an honest broker on other issues too. We’re not just another Democratic hack blog, and we care about good policy and good information.

  4. Sean is dead on regarding the CF’s credibility. But I don’t think they would support the Mcllhenny plan. According to other articles the same poll respondents want the state out of wholesale and don’t want the small businesses like beer distributors to get an advantage. After all only the major chains can afford to hire the likes of the CF. The Poll results are as predictable as an Albert Brooks post. He’s been told many times how there has only been one unbiased poll that dealt with the real situation instead of offering a false dilemma up or down vote on selling off an asset. When you add the third choice legislative action allowing modernization of the current system 57% vote to keep the stores. Interesting that this poll paid for by a biased party (whoops parties..forgot about Getting) only got 61%. Three years ago some neutral and valid polls got as high as 67% when giving the false choice of of only two answers. Education is a good thing.

  5. Pretty closely matches almost every poll for over 40 years. What was the reasoning then John? The state store system has been considered inept and incompetent for most of it’s existence and the people know it and they always will. You can put all the lipstick on the PLCB pig you want but it is still a pig in the end.

  6. the McIlhinney plan is what people would support. Thre Commonwealth Foundation which is a front for the PA Right to Work crowd is notorious for dubious poll questions.

  7. Keystone Politics, a one man blog funded by Jon Gettings day job, and the Commonwealth Foundation, loaded to the max with 1% loot “co sponsored” this poll? Really! They split the bill down the middle? Sure. A more likely scenario is the CF needed liberal cover to lend credibility and Jon Getting needs friends. Got to say if he thinks he’s going to be the liberal Drudge or even the next John Micek he’s probably going about it all wrong. Playing with Koch’s money through a right wing propaganda and lobbying group is hardly a career move.

Comments are closed.

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