NYers Flip Flop on Soda Fat Tax: Poll

The word "budget" makes all the difference

New York voters overwhelmingly back a proposal to tax sugary soda as a means to balance the budget, according to a new poll. Their support marks a stark change of heart from just two weeks ago, when most voters rejected the planned tax. 

What explains the sudden turnaround? The key word is "budget."

In a Feb. 4 Quinnipiac University survey, city voters opposed the "fat tax" 50 percent to 47 percent. But the question posed by pollsters omitted any mention of budget implications. In the poll released today, surveyors specifically asked voters whether they'd support the tax to balance the budget.

Voters overwhelmingly said "yes" (76 percent to 22 percent). Even traditionally tax-averse Republican voters backed the measure 60 percent to 36 percent. And the widespread support was common across ethnicities and in every borough.

Voters also agree that the Bloomberg administration's move to curb salt usage in restaurants is a positive one. Despite some concerns that the government should keep its fingers out of the public kitchen, most respondents consider its involvement in food issues to be useful rather than meddling, the poll found.

"There's been some grumbling about 'nanny government' by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but voters are eating it up. Only a few think Mayor Mike is meddling. It's important, we agree overwhelmingly," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Making restaurants post calories? Combating salt in diets? We're with you, Mayor."

The poll addressed a variety of other issues important to voters, including the 9/11 terror trials and the job being done by the NYPD. Quinnipiac surveyed 1,195 registered voters in the city from Feb. 11-15, with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.  

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