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Celinda Lake, Daniel Gotoff, and Alex Dunn Washington, DC | Berkeley, CA | New York, NY LakeResearch.com 202.776.9066. Findings from a Statewide Survey of 407 Likely Voters in West Virginia. Methodology.

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slide1
Celinda Lake, Daniel Gotoff, and Alex Dunn

Washington, DC | Berkeley, CA | New York, NY

LakeResearch.com

202.776.9066

Findings from a Statewide Survey of 407 Likely Voters in West Virginia

methodology
Methodology
  • Lake Research Partners designed and administered this survey that was conducted by telephone using professional interviewers. The survey reached a total of 407 likely 2014 General Election voters in West Virginia. The survey was conducted June 12th through June 16th, 2013. The margin of error for this poll is +/- 4.9%.
  • Telephone numbers for the sample were generated from a file of registered voters. The sample was stratified geographically to reflect the expected turnout of voters in the 2014 General Election. The data were weighted slightly by gender, age, education, party identification, and region.
  • In interpreting survey results, all sample surveys are subject to possible sampling error – that is, the results of a survey may differ from those that would be obtained if the entire population were interviewed. The size of the sampling error depends upon both the total number of respondents in the survey and the percentage distribution of responses to a particular question. For example, if a response to a given question which all respondents answered was 50%, we could be 95% confident that the true percentage would fall within plus or minus 4.9% of this percentage, or between 45.1% and 54.9%.

2

key findings
Key Findings
  • West Virginians also want to see the revenue derived from their natural resources dedicated to the benefit of their communities.
  • A new “Future Fund” that promotes economic development generates widespread enthusiasm and very little opposition from West Virginia voters. Majorities of voters from across the political spectrum, and from every region of the state, favor the Future Fund and by commanding margins.
  • Similarly, voters favor raising the coal tax by an impressive 50-point margin. Half of all likely voters support the proposal strongly.
  • Support for this proposal is not only broad and deep—it is remarkably resilient; voters rate the standard range of coal industry scare tactics with only lukewarm potency and, more important, overall support for increasing the coal tax never wavers.

3

the political and economic context

The Political and Economic Context

Voters are quite upbeat about the various mainstream coal alternatives tested, including natural gas, clean coal, and renewables, like wind and solar energy. Strong majorities also support fully enforcing the Clean Water Act, despite their more generalized skepticism of the EPA.

slide5
Voters register high levels of dissatisfaction with the state of West Virginia’s economy, and in particular their own local economy.

Economic Ratings for...

Your Local Economy*

West Virginia’s Economy*

-30

-51

5

*Asked of ½ the sample. Darker colors indicate intensity.

And how would you rate [the local economy / the economy] in [your part of the state / West Virginia] – excellent, good, just fair, or poor?

slide6

The coal industry retains a broadly popular profile. The Clean Water Act shows remarkable appeal as a vehicle for environmental protection.

Favorability Ratings: Actors and Institutions

Favorable

NO/NH

Unfavorable

Net

+66

5

+69

15

+49

9

+46

7

+34

14

+50

24

+34

27

-8

3

+13

11

+2

8

*Asked of ½ the sample. Darker colors indicate intensity.

6

Now I'd like to ask you about some public figures, organizations, and issues. For each, please tell me whether you have a VERY favorable, SOMEWHAT favorable, somewhat UNFAVORABLE, or VERY unfavorable impression. If you have heard of the person, organization, or issue but do not know enough to have an impression or if you haven’t heard of it, just say so, and we will move on.

slide7

All of the coal alternatives tested are highly popular in West Virginia. There appears to be little political benefit in describing green energy sources as “clean” versus “renewable”.

Favorability Ratings: Energy Sources

Favorable

Unfavorable

NO/NH

Net

+82

4

+65

6

+67

10

+62

6

+61

10

-8

14

*Asked of ½ the sample. Darker colors indicate intensity.

7

Now I'd like to ask you about some public figures, organizations, and issues. For each, please tell me whether you have a VERY favorable, SOMEWHAT favorable, somewhat UNFAVORABLE, or VERY unfavorable impression. If you have heard of the person, organization, or issue but do not know enough to have an impression or if you haven’t heard of it, just say so, and we will move on.

slide8

For the most part, West Virginians assess the environmental quality of their state and region as fairly stable, though relatively few believe the quality of the environment has improved.

Quality of the Environment in...

Your Part of the State*

West Virginia*

*Asked of ½ the sample.

Overall, do you think the quality of the environment in [your part of the state / West Virginia] has gotten better, stayed about the same, or gotten worse?

8

slide9

West Virginians overwhelmingly favor enforcing the Clean Water Act. Notably, voters demonstrate the same intensity of support for fully enforcing the Clean Water Act to safeguard West Virginia waterways from coal mining as can be seen without direct reference to coal mining.

Fully Enforcing the Clean Water Act

To Safeguard Streams, Rivers, Lakesfrom Coal Mining

To Safeguard Streams, Rivers, Lakes

+63

+64

*Asked of ½ the sample. Darker colors indicate intensity.

And would you favor or oppose fully enforcing the Clean Water Act to safeguard streams, rivers, and lakes in West Virginia [from coal mining], or aren’t you sure?

9

slide10

Posing a forced choice between emphasizing the development of renewable energy and the production of more oil, gas, and coal uncovers the risks of an impatient approach to energy transition in West Virginia. Voters favorable to new, sustainable energy opportunities, but pressuring them to decide between those opportunities and the industry they know leaves advocates in a losing position.

West Virginia’s Energy Future

And when it comes to West Virginia’s energy future, which of the following statements comes closer to your view?

-6

Statement A: (Some people/ other people) say West Virginia should emphasize the development of renewable energy, such as wind and solar power.

Statement B:(some people/ other people) say West Virginia should emphasize production of more oil, gas, and coal supplies.

10

And when it comes to West Virginia’s energy future, which of the following statements comes closer to your view?

slide11

An approach that calls for beginning to rely less on coal jobs in order to diversify West Virginia’s economy draws majority support and leads a fossil fuel-only strategy by a double-digit margin. Emphasizing the term diversification helps assuage concerns that the effort is merely a disguised assault on the extractive industries and its associated jobs.

West Virginia’s Economic Future

+16

+13

Statement A*:(Some people/ other people) say West Virginia should begin the transition into a more diversified energy economy that relies less on coal jobs.

Statement A*:(Some people/ other people) say West Virginia should begin the transition into a more diversified economy that relies less on coal jobs.

Statement B:(some people/ other people) say West Virginia should emphasize production of more oil, gas and coal supplies.

11

*Asked of ½ the sample. Darker colors indicate intensity.

And when it comes to West Virginia’s economic future, which of the following statements comes closer to your view?

slide12

Additionally, voters say they are less likely to back elected officials who attempt to reduce such regulations, and more likely to favor officials who want to increase them. This is a divisive issue that lacks a clear consensus, however.

Likelihood to Support Elected Officials in Favor of...

ReducingEnvironmental Regulations

IncreasingEnvironmental Regulations

*Asked of ½ the sample. Darker colors indicate intensity.

Suppose an elected official were in favor of [reducing/increasing] environmental regulations on coal mining? Would that make you more or less likely to support that elected official, or wouldn’t it make any difference?

12

support for the future fund and raising the coal tax

Support for the Future Fund and Raising the Coal Tax

This electorate is poised to embrace an increase in West Virginia’s coal tax in order to fund economic development projects, infrastructure projects, and education and worker training programs. Majorities of every major subgroup—by party, gender, age, education level, and region (including coal country)—favors this proposal and with visible intensity.

slide14

The Future Fund is highly popular, outpacing opposition by nearly a 7:1 margin. Intensity of support is also noteworthy. Specifying that the funds would subsidize education, public safety, and land conservation generates slightly more enthusiasm than confining the measure to infrastructure projects only.

West Virginia Future Fund

Education, Public Safety & Land Conservation*

Infrastructure Projects*

+57

+59

*Asked of ½ the sample. Darker colors indicate intensity.

On another topic, oil and natural gas companies currently pay a tax of about 4.4% of the value of the oil and gas they extract in West Virginia. This money is used in West Virginia's General Fund and Infrastructure Fund, and some of it is sent back to the counties where the resources came from. There is a proposal to use a portion of this money to create the "West Virginia Future Fund," which would be designated solely for the purpose of economic development [and infrastructure projects/education, public safety, and land conservation projects], especially for oil and gas-producing counties and municipalities. Do you favor or oppose this proposal, or are you undecided?

14

slide15

Support for raising West Virginia’s coal tax to fund economic development, infrastructure, education and job training in the state is remarkable not just in its breadth (nearly seven in ten voters favor the increase), but in its intensity as well.

Initial Ballot: Raise Coal Tax by 1%

+51

15

  • Coal companies pay a similar tax of about 6.5% on the right to mine coal in West Virginia. There is a proposal to increase this tax by 1% and use the additional money for economic development projects, infrastructure projects, and education and worker training programs, especially in the West Virginia counties and municipalities where the coal is extracted. Do you favor or oppose this proposal, or are you undecided?
slide16

Initial Ballot Contours

Raising the coal tax generates impressive support across the board. Republicans and Democrats back the tax at equal levels, though work remains to be done with independents, who are slightly more skeptical. Voters with a direct connection to the coal industry are even more likely to favor the increase.

Und

Net

+51

11

+47

12

+54

11

+62

9

+42

13

+48

11

+56

12

+54

10

+34

16

+58

8

+51

11

7

+51

13

+50

14

+51

+50

15

+53

10

+50

8

+55

10

+49

12

16

Coal companies pay a similar tax of about 6.5% on the right to mine coal in West Virginia. There is a proposal to increase this tax by 1% and use the additional money for economic development projects, infrastructure projects, and education and worker training programs, especially in the West Virginia counties and municipalities where the coal is extracted. Do you favor or oppose this proposal, or are you undecided?

slide17

Presenting voters with context—that other coal states impose a markedly higher effective tax rate of 11% on coal—leaves support (and opposition) virtually unchanged. Despite expectations for positive movement as a result of this information, support may already be at or very near its ceiling in this electorate.

Informed Ballot: Raise Coal Tax 1%

+48

  • As you may know, states like Wyoming with similar coal industries have effective tax rates of approximately 11% of the value of the coal extracted from their land. Knowing that, do you favor or oppose the proposal to increase West Virginia’s 6.5% coal extraction tax by 1% and use the additional money for economic development projects, infrastructure projects, and education and worker training programs, especially in the West Virginia counties and municipalities where the coal is extracted, or are you undecided?

17

message and positioning

Message and Positioning

Any messaging in favor of a Future Fund or adjustment to the coal tax should be framed in terms of the benefits to West Virginians—particularly where infrastructure, like roads and schools, or additional funding for higher education is part of the package. Additionally, provisions for stricter enforcement of Clean Water Act protections for the state’s waterways should be highlighted. The attacks on diversification raise some concerns, but only with relatively isolated segments of the electorate.

slide19

Infrastructure and higher education investments hold clear sway over West Virginians’ economic priorities, trumping other ideas like offering new small business incentives, funding tourism projects, creating new renewable energy job training programs, and promoting clean coal.

Top-Tier Priorities for West Virginia’s Economic Future

Mean

82

79

75

76

73

75

100: Very Important

80-100: Important

*Asked of ½ the sample. Darker colors indicate intensity.

19

Now, I am going to read you some priorities for West Virginia’s economic future. On a scale of 0 to 100, where 100 is very important and 0 is not important at all, please tell me how important each one is in your own mind. If you don't know how important a priority is, just say so and we'll go on.

On a scale of 0 to 100, please tell me how important this priority is for West Virginia’s future.

slide20

Investing specifically in renewable energy, energy efficiency programs, and power plant modernization all rank lower in the spectrum of economic priorities for most West Virginians.

Second-Tier Priorities for West Virginia’s Economic Future

Mean

72

67

64

61

61

100: Very Important

80-100: Important

*Asked of ½ the sample. Darker colors indicate intensity.

20

Now, I am going to read you some priorities for West Virginia’s economic future. On a scale of 0 to 100, where 100 is very important and 0 is not important at all, please tell me how important each one is in your own mind. If you don't know how important a priority is, just say so and we'll go on.

On a scale of 0 to 100, please tell me how important this priority is for West Virginia’s future.

slide21

Safeguarding West Virginia’s streams and rivers outshines a slate of other environmental priorities; in fact, increasing existing protections attracts nearly equal enthusiasm. Very few voters view undoing coal regulations as a solution.

Priorities for West Virginia’s Environmental Future

Mean

80

82

59

67

55

49

100: Very Important

80-100: Important

Each asked of ½ the sample. Darker colors indicate intensity.

21

Next, I am going to read you some priorities for West Virginia’s environmental future. On a scale of 0 to 100, where 100 is very important and 0 is not important at all, please tell me how important each one is in your own mind. If you don't know how important a priority is, just say so and we'll go on.

On a scale of 0 to 100, please tell me how important this priority is for West Virginia’s future.

slide22

Restoring America’s tradition of innovation and leadership on energy by embracing a diverse mix of coal, wind, and solar is the leading reason to support a broader energy economy in West Virginia. Keeping mercury out of the air and water, creating new jobs, and promoting cost savings through energy efficiency all show similar appeal.

Positive Messages

Mean

6.5

6.1

6.2

6.2

6.4

6.0

5.5

5.4

10: Very Convincing

8-10: Convincing

Each asked of ½ the sample. Darker colors indicate intensity.

Now, I'm going to read you [some/some other types of] statements people have made about West Virginia’s economic future. Please tell me whether each statement, assuming it is true, is a convincing reason to support a expanding West Virginia’s energy economy to include other energy sources in addition to coal, on a scale from 0 to 10, where 10 means it is a VERY CONVINCING reason, 0 means it is a NOT AT ALL convincing reason, and you can be anywhere in between. If you are not sure how you feel about a particular item, please say so. Here’s the first one.

22

slide25

None of the messages attacking a diversified energy economy registers as much intensity (or reach) as our positives. Budgetary concerns and the fear of job losses create some doubts, though explicitly referencing the alleged “War on Coal” may actually weaken the argument.

Opposition Messages

Mean

5.3

4.7

4.3

4.5

10: Serious Doubts

8-10: Some to Serious Doubts

Each asked of ½ the sample. Darker colors indicate intensity.

Now, I'm going to read you [some/some other types of] statements people have made about West Virginia’s economic future. Please tell me whether each statement, assuming it is true, raises doubts in your own mind about expanding West Virginia’s energy economy to include other energy sources in addition to coal, on a scale from 0 to 10, where 10 means it raises serious doubts, 0 means it raises no doubts, and you can be anywhere in between. If you are not sure how you feel about a particular item, please say so. Here’s the first one.

25

slide27

Washington, DC | Berkeley, CA | New York, NY

LakeResearch.com

202.776.9066

Celinda Lake

clake@lakeresearch.com

Daniel Gotoff

dgotoff@lakeresearch.com

Alex Dunn

adunn@lakeresearch.com