GOP gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Johnson may be on to something.
A new UtahPolicy poll shows that 48 percent Utah Republicans are more likely to vote for someone if the candidate has signed a no-new-taxes pledge.
Only 20 percent of Republicans say they are less likely to vote for someone who has signed such a no-tax-hike pledge, 27 percent said signing such a pledge would not affect their vote, and 5 percent didn’t know.
Johnson has signed such a pledge in his race to replace GOP Gov. Gary Herbert as the Republican Party gubernatorial nominee.
Herbert has steadfastly refused to sign such a pledge, saying the governor needs the flexibility to reform and rebalance the state’s taxation policies.
In a new round of polling, Dan Jones & Associates finds in surveys for UtahPolicy that Herbert holds a healthy lead over Johnson, both among Republicans and citizens as a whole.
But Jones also finds that Johnson has taken the right political move in signing a no-new-taxes pledge, at least as far as Republicans and those who say they are “very conservative” politically go.
54 percent of those who said they are “very conservative” would be more inclined to vote for a candidate who has signed a no-new-taxes pledge.
Only 10 percent of the “very conservative” said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who made such a pledge, 30 percent said such a commitment would not affect their vote, and 6 percent didn’t know.
Johnson faces Herbert in April 23 state Republican convention, where delegates – who historically are more conservative than average GOP voters – will vote on the two men.
Johnson, who is taking only the caucus/delegate/convention route, needs at least 40 percent of the delegate vote to advance to the June 28primary.
Herbert has gotten the 28,000 GOP voter signatures needed to go directly to the ballot; he can’t be eliminated in the convention.
In a general election, a no-new-taxes pledge has less of an effect, Jones found:
39 percent of all Utahns said they were more likely to vote for a candidate who made the pledge, 28 percent said they would be less likely to vote for such a pledger, 28 percent said it makes no difference in their vote, and 5 percent didn’t know.
51 percent of Democrats said they would be LESS likely to vote for someone who took a no-new-taxes pledge, 18 percent said they would be more likely to vote for such a candidate, 25 percent said it makes no difference to them, and 6 percent didn’t know.
Political independents are split on the no-new-taxes candidate pledge, 35 percent said they would be more likely to vote for that pledger, 29 percent said less likely, 33 percent said it makes no difference to them, and 2 percent didn’t know.
In Monday’s GOP gubernatorial debate, Johnson challenged Herbert to take the no-new-tax pledge, adding that Herbert and the Legislature have raised taxes some times in recent years – including the gasoline tax and the property tax for schools.
Herbert declined to take the pledge, saying a fiscally responsible governor and Legislature sometimes has to “rebalance” the tax load when things get out of whack.
Herbert said none other than Sen. Howard Stephenson, president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, a tax watchdog group, has endorsed several bills recently that raised some taxes as a rebalancing took effect – especially the power of local schools boards to spend money on buildings and other facilities.
“You don’t have our economic success as a state by raising taxes,” Herbert said in the Monday debate.
The Utah Foundation said in a recent report that Utah’s tax burden is the lowest ion 20 years – and that is a good thing, said Herbert.
“It’s the easiest thing in the world” for a governor or legislator to raise taxes, said Johnson.
Government officials just see taxes as revenue, but it is taking citizens money from their pockets.
“I won’t raise taxes” as governor, said Johnson. Then pointed to Herbert, saying: “He’s gonna raise them.”