Now here’s a surprise: Despite widespread negative reaction among politicians and YouTube videomakers, a new poll suggests New York City folk favor a soda tax like the one Governor Paterson proposed in 2008 (and has vacillated on, in both directions, in response to criticism) to balance the city budget.
This Quinnipiac Poll result, which shows that city voters endorse a non-diet soft drink tax by a 76 to 22 percent margin, contrasts with statewide results taken earlier in the month, in which voters were opposed to the tax, 57-40 percent.
As if trying to explain it to themselves, the Q Pollers mention that in the state poll they referred to “an ‘obesity tax’ or a ‘fat tax’ on non-diet sugary soft drinks,” which wording may have made the tax sound punitive, and “did not mention budget implications” as they did in the new city poll. (New York City voters opposed the measure with that wording, too, by a “slim 50-47 percent.”)
Nonetheless the wide margin in this result, and their response to other questions, show a clear victory for nannyism in the Big Apple: Voters also agree the Bloomberg Administration is “correct to encourage New York City restaurants to use less salt in food preparation,” 77-21 percent.
They approve by an even greater margin the general principle of “government getting involved with things like the salt content and calorie posting of restaurant food,” 79 to 19 percent.
The difference between the city and state results may in part owe to cultural differences. City dwellers are historically more receptive to government interventions than inhabitants of the outland, where the revenuer and gummint agent is traditionally viewed with suspicion.
Also we’ve been seeing that disgusting “Pour on The Pounds” anti-soda ad from the Department of Health for months, which may have viscerally affected the outcome.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 18, 2010