UFCW Poll: Voters Oppose Corbett Liquor Plan

TOM CORBETT
Gov. Tom Corbett

Voters aren’t keen on Gov. Tom Corbett’s plan to privatize the state’s liquor stores, according to a poll commissioned by the labor union most vocally opposed to the proposal. The survey was conducted by a Republican pollster.

47% oppose the plan and 41% support it. It’s the first publicly released survey to show privatization at a net negative. Its results are a contrast from overall attitudes about privatization; respondents said they favored privatizing government services 40% to 38%.

GOP firm Harper Polling surveyed 500 likely Pa. voters via interactive voice response from April 8-10. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.38%.

Update: several readers emailed me and noted in the comments below that partners with Long, Nyquist & Associates – which represents UFCW 1776 – are also partners in Harper Polling. Add that grain of salt to the one described below.

The results paint a bleaker picture for privatization than did a recent survey commissioned by the the conservative Commonwealth Foundation which found 61% support for it.

The latest independent poll on the issue, from Franklin & Marshall in February, showed 53% of voters supported privatization while 34% opposed it.

In the Harper poll released by UFCW, 60% said the issue shouldn’t be a priority for officials in Harrisburg. Ranked among other issues, liquor placed last (9%) among fixing the economy (41%), funding education (38%), and transportation (12%).

In the memo, pollster Brock McCleary said the intensity of opposition surpassed that of supporters.

“It’s the difference between the guy who wouldn’t mind having another liquor store in his neighborhood and the guy who’s going to lose his job if they privatize the store where he works,” he wrote.

UFCW President Wendell Young IV agrees.

“What this poll shows is very low intensity from the voters on this,” he said.

He said he initially commissioned the poll to be internal, but decided to release it on seeing the numbers.

“I needed a credible poll, a poll that wouldn’t just tell me what I wanted to hear,” he said. “This is a Republican firm, the mostly work for Republicans, they’re gonna give me a good, hard, conservative look.”

The United Food and Commercial Workers local 1776 labor union represents the employees of the current wine and spirits stores. The Governor’s plan would provide incentives for private spirits sellers who hire them, but critics like UFCW 1776 say that the proposal would exchange well-paying union jobs for minimum wage clerk positions.

The poll also tested some of the negative messaging against liquor privatization. A majority of respondents said they would be less likely to support Corbett’s plan if it meant easier access to booze for teenagers, lead to job losses, reduce revenue for the state, or cause booze to increase in price.

“The Governor, Lt. Governor and others like to say that 70%, 80% of people support this. But that’s not true,” said Young. “It comes in cycles. The public perception of this issue is one way, but when it comes to the clear light of testimony,” public support tends to drop, he said.

Just as with internal polls commissioned by campaigns, the results of internal polls from advocacy groups should be taken with a grain of salt. Typically, the group commissioning a poll has final say over the questions asked and the language therein.

In this case, the pollster asked about “Governor Corbett’s plan.” Given the Governor’s low approval ratings, it’s likely attaching his name to the question brought down its numbers.

Not to mention, the bill passed by the state House and has noteworthy differences from the plan Corbett proposed – as will likely be the case in the state Senate should the measure reach a vote there.

“It might have affected it by a few points,” Young conceded, “but this is nowhere near the 70, 80 points you hear,” from supporters.

Corbett has taken as prominent a role on the liquor issue as any during his tenure so far.

51% of respondents identified as Democrats and 39% as Republicans. 15% identified as liberal versus very conservative (19%), somewhat conservative (27%) and moderate (35%).

Here’s the poll questions and topline results:

Liquor Privatization Poll Toplines

21 Responses

  1. I think this is one of the most important information for me.

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  2. This is basically a “push poll.” The real poll will be the 2014 election when consumers will take it out on elected officials that don’t respect their wishes.

  3. It is truly rare when DD’s comments are more incisive than are Guzardi’s…but this was on-point:

    David Diano on April 26, 2013 at 2:19 pm said:

    I don’t think the poll is valid, because it’s missing the questions:

    How much have you had to drink before taking this poll?

    and

    How many years have you been a UFCW member?

    [….]

  4. Dandy Bob Guzzardi supports Big Government redefining traditional marriage and taking away our Second Amendment rights. Hey Bob – Is that a Saturday Night Special in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

  5. Will Team Republican sell out the base again to favor Wndell Young, the Union jugernaut and Pat Deon’s Beer cartel?

    Collectivism, Big Governmnet, is not what the grassroots thinks of as a Republican. HB 790 is demonstrating that Republican Party is a House Divided against itself.

  6. Keeping the state stores and the requirement to fund the pensions of the employees is not sound policy!

  7. Mr. Brooks; I see age in the demographic. And I see a majority against privatization too? What do you see that everyone else is missing?

  8. Can’t even get a majority of people to say they want to keep the state store system after 80 years of brainwashing. This goes against decades of independent polls and can be looked at as an anomaly and not a fact. A phone poll in this day and age is not the most accurate sampling since they didn’t take age into account at all.

  9. Looking back the last few years polls show consistent erosion of support for privatization. From 69% two years ago it slipped to around 60% then to the latest 53% in the F&M poll released in early March. Since then the bill was rammed through the house without any semblance of transparency. A voting public that was beginning to question the overall value of privatized liquor may have reacted negatively. There is pretty wide margin of error but this poll is probably in the ballpark for right now. It would be interesting to see one taken after the senate hearings shed more light on this.

  10. So, we have decades of independent polling which concludes that the majority of Pennsylvanians want private liquor stores. Now, we have ONE poll (commissioned by those that stand to lose the most from private liquor stores and conducted right before senate hearings) , which state that the majority of Pennsylvanians don’t want private liquor stores. What an amazing coincidence.

  11. Obviously Harper Polling is wrong. The independent polling on this issue has been consistent for decades.

  12. This is a good poll. The demographics mirror Pa. politically and geographically. The order of the questions isn’t leading. For instance if the questions about teens getting alcohol, lost jobs and revenue where asked before the broad question on privatization it may have pushed up the percentage against privatization a few ticks. Looks fair to me. It’s obvious by looking at the questions asked it was meant to be kept internal.

  13. Wendell Young will still have a job, I personally do not care what he makes, what do you think greedy CEO’s of large corporations make?? Funny how a poll that favors privatization is legit but one that doesn’t you try to dismiss. Modernization is about convenience to consumers and keeping our assets in Pennsylvania to benefit all. Convenience seems to be the “buzz” word, while the ugly side of drinking is swept under the rug. It takes a village to raise a child and as responsible members of a community most of us do not want to see alcohol at every gas station, convenient store and oft times under very loose control with ill regard to the harm it causes… Modernize not privatize!

  14. Those might be the questions but is that the order they were asked? Some are certainly biased and the order would effect the answers.

  15. Local 98 donates $25K to Lower Bucks Leadership PAC and 2 days later $25K shows up in Senator McIlhinney’s campaign account. Is it a coincidence that they held their fundraiser at Pat Deon’s restaurant, The Temperance House in Newtown?

    Team Republican Sells Out the Forgotten Taxpayer to Unions and Crony Capitalists (a polite way of saying socialists).

  16. McIlhinney raised $562,562 during the 2010 election cycle.
    His top contributors are listed below.[5]
    Donor Amount
    Pennsylvania Republican Party $100,082
    Friends of Joe Scarnati $70,000
    Senate Republican Campaign Cmte of Pennsylvania $50,000
    Lower Bucks Leadership PAC $25,000
    Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters & Joiners $11,000
    2006
    McIlhinney raised $824,637 during the 2006 election cycle.
    His top contributors are listed below.[6]
    Donor Amount
    Pennsylvania Republican Party $237,221
    Senate Republican Campaign Committee of Pennsylvania $164,525
    Republican Senate Campaign Committee $36,368
    Pennsylvania Medical Society $19,076
    Pennsylvania Future Fund $15,000
    Committee to Elect Joe Conti $15,000
    Friends of Joe Scarnati $12,500
    Fund for Pennsylvania Priorities PAC $10,000
    Pennsylvanians for Effective Government $10,000
    John Templeton, Jr. $5,100

    Who funds Sen. McIlhinney?

    One would think with this kind of financial leverage that Senate President Pro Tem Scarnati and Majority Leader Pileggi could persuade Sen. McIlhinney to embrace HB 790 or even full privatization if they wanted to.

    http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Charles_McIlhinney

  17. Mike Long, former chief of staff to opportunist alleged Republican Robert Jubelirer, is now official lobbyist for UFCWU. http://www.scribd.com/doc/126814808/Lobbyists-Mike-Long-and-Todd-Nyquist-Registration-with-names-of-affiliated-lobbyists-and-their-clients

    Notice that they hacks employ Megan Crompton, wife of Andrew Crompton of Senate Bonusgate noninvestigation, Megan Callahan, wife of Krystjan Callahan, Mike Turzai’s chief of staff, and Siohin Vance, grandson of Big Government phony Republican Patricia Vance. Mike Long’s son is on Sen. Scarnati’s staff!

    Incestuous Insider Network is the reason that Team Republican gets nothing done, other than enriching themselves at taxpayer expense, and why CorbettCawley’s numbers are plummeting.

    Team Republican is enervating the Republican rank and file voter and the principled grassroots. Allyson Schwartz will electrify the Obama base and the abused Republican base will be lackluster.

    CorbettCawley and Team Republican have not produced. It is no wonder it lost all row offices. Scarnati Pileggi Long Nyquist and the insiders have only themselves to blame. but brighten up, we can all move to Texas.

    And Senate chair Charles McIlhinney is financed by unions and by beer cartelist Pat Deon. No liquor privatization for Pennsylvania appears likely.

    Republican Leadership has sold us out…again and again.

  18. I don’t think the poll is valid, because it’s missing the questions:

    How much have you had to drink before taking this poll?

    and

    How many years have you been a UFCW member?

    Also, questions like these would be helpful:

    How many times a week (month, year) do you buy alcohol from a state store?

    Do you mostly buy wine, or liquor?

    Do you feel there is good selection?

    Do you do most of your drinking a bars?

    This is supposedly what people are complaining about, so it would be nice to see what experiences the surveyed people have buying alcohol.

  19. You mean Harper Polling of Long, Nyquist – the firm that does all the work for the PA Senate Republicans?

    How can we take Harper Polling seriously when they are conducting push polls for Joe Scarnati, Chuck McIlhinney and the RINOs in the PA Senate?

    You don’t have to be a pollster to realize that getting rid of the liquor stores is universally popular. Maybe Block was polling members of the UFCW. Harper Polling would probably be better off sticking to something that is more in their depth – polling the battle over which convenience store is more popular – WaWa and Sheetz?

  20. I’m shocked that wendell young would resort to phony poll to save his $260,000/ year job.

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