October 12, 2016

Simon Poll: Illinois voters offer different views of state budget crisis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Most Illinois voters say the state budget stalemate is not having an impact on their lives, according to a new poll by Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Voters also remain divided over how to fix the state’s budget woes.  There are 44 percent who favor cuts, 12 percent who favor tax increases and 33 percent who favor both.

The survey of 1,000 registered voters was taken Sept. 27-Oct. 2 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1percentage points.

Of the total sample, 34 percent said they were personally affected by the crisis while 62 percent were unaffected. Those opinions have varied little during the past year.

Linda Baker, university professor at the institute, said, “Illinoisans are aware that the budget crisis is no longer an abstract question, but instead something that is growing in significance and having an effect on the state's ability to attract and retain businesses and residents.

“One hopeful finding is the increased percentage of Illinoisans who see the solution as a mix of both budget cuts and increasing revenues. Hopefully this can help spur policymakers on both sides of the aisle to consider a compromise that includes solutions offered by both parties,” Baker said.

David Yepsen, institute director, said “I’m surprised more people aren’t feeling affected by this deadlock in Springfield. I thought the numbers of people impacted would be increasing as it wore on but it’s also true many people aren’t impacted by changes in government services.”

Among those who saw an impact on their own lives, the largest group -- at 18 percent -- saw the budget stalemate as the cause of their job loss or threat of loss. Another 15 percent saw it as the cause of cuts to general social services and 14 percent perceived it as the source of cuts to K-12 education funding.

The Simon Poll has tracked opinions from 2009 to 2016, and noted a gradual decline, although slight, in the percentage of respondents who felt that a series of budget and spending cuts would suffice to address the structural fiscal problem. Interviewees are increasingly seeing the need for an increase in state revenues coupled with cuts as an essential part of any solution.

  • Respondents who viewed only budget and spending cuts as the primary way to solve the crisis shrank from 57 percent in 2009 to 44 percent in 2016.
  • Those who thought that a mix of cuts and increased revenues was needed rose from 27 percent in 2009 to 33 percent in 2016.
  • The number who viewed an increase in revenues as the primary vehicle for solving the problem was 12 percent, with only minor fluctuations during the period covered by the study.

Poll results are available here.

For more results, contact Baker at 618/453-4004 or John Jackson, institute visiting professor, at 618/453-3106.

The margin of error for the entire sample of 1,000 voters is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. This means that if we conducted the survey 100 times, in 95 of those instances, the population proportion would be within plus or minus the reported margin for error for each subsample. For subsamples, the margin of error increases as the sample size goes down. The margin of error was not adjusted for design effects.

Live telephone interviews were conducted by Customer Research International of San Marcos, Texas, using the random digit dialing method. The telephone sample was provided to Customer Research International by Scientific Telephone Samples. Potential interviewees were screened based on whether they were registered voters and quotas based on area code and sex (<60% female). Interviewers asked to speak to the youngest registered voter at home at the time of the call. Cell phone interviews accounted for 60 percent of the sample. A Spanish language version of the questionnaire and a Spanish-speaking interviewer were made available.

Field work was conducted from Sept. 27 to Oct.  2. No auto-dial or “robo” polling is included. Customer Research International reports no Illinois political clients. The survey was paid for with non-tax dollars from the institute’s endowment fund. The data were not weighted in any way. Crosstabs for the referenced questions will be on the institute’s polling website, http://paulsimoninstitute.siu.edu/opinion-polls/index.php

The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute is a member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research’s (AAPOR) Transparency Initiative. AAPOR works to encourage objective survey standards for practice and disclosure. Membership in the Transparency Initiative reflects a pledge to practice transparency in reporting survey-based findings.

Simon Institute polling data are archived by four academic institutions for use by scholars and the public. The four open source data repositories are: the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research (http://ropercenter.cornell.edu/polls/), the University of Michigan’s Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (http://home.isr.umich.edu/centers/icpsr/), the University of North Carolina’s Odum Institute Dataverse Network (https://dataverse.unc.edu/), and the Simon Institute Collection at OpenSIUC (http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/ppi/). 

Note: The “Paul Simon Public Policy Institute Poll,” the “Simon Poll” and the “Southern Illinois Poll” are the copyrighted trademarks of the Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University. Use and publication of these polls is encouraged -- but only with credit to the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIU Carbondale.