New Dakota Poll Finds Broad Support for Sales Tax Increase to Fund Education and Medicaid. Voters Closely Split on Daugaard Education Plan

Sam Hurst Front Page 1, October 2012 Poll Leave a Comment

By a margin of 67% to 30%, South Dakota voters say they intend to vote “Yes” on Initiated Measure #15 on the November ballot, to according to results of the new Dakota Poll. Measure 15 would raise the South Dakota sales tax one cent with the proceeds used to support public education and Medicaid.

The Dakota Poll was conducted by RBI Strategies and Research of Denver, Colorado between September 29-30. 400 “likely voters” were surveyed by telephone. The margin of error is 4.9%. All questions, topline results, and crosstabs are available at

Support for the sales tax crossed ideological lines. Self-described “Conservatives”, “Liberals” and “Moderates” all supported Measure #15 by large majorities. Even self-identified “Tea Party” supporters said they intended to vote “Yes” by a margin of 49% to 43%. Among “Very Conservative” voters, 49% of respondents said they intended to vote “No”, while 46% said they intended to vote “Yes.” (see crosstab table # 104)

Respondents to the Dakota Poll also indicated that they were leaning against Referred Law #16 on the November ballot by a margin of 52% to 46%. Referred Law #16 grew out of Governor Daugaard’s education reform initiative in the 2012 legislature. If passed the law would establish a system of merit pay for excellent teachers, pay bonuses to math and science teachers, establish a uniform teacher and principal evaluation system, and eliminate the current requirements for teacher tenure.

Conservatives narrowly support the Governor’s initiative. Moderates and liberals were opposed. (see crosstab table # 114)

The mood of South Dakota voters toward the economy has dramatically improved. In October, 2010, at the height of the financial crisis, the Dakota Poll surveyed “South Dakota Adults” on the question, “Would you say things in South Dakota are heading in the right direction or are they off on the wrong track?” In 2010 less than a majority, 49%, said things were on the right track. 29% said things were on the wrong track. Almost exactly two years later, the Dakota Poll asked “likely voters” the same question. “Heading in the right direction jumped from 49% to 65%. “Wrong direction” held steady at 28%. In 2010 the “unsure category was 21%. Today, the “unsure” category has dropped to only 6%.

Conservatives are most optimistic that “things in South Dakota are heading in the right direction”, by a margin of 71%-22%. Liberals are evenly divided. 45% believe things are headed in the right direction. 45% believe things are on the “wrong track”.

Regarding “Referred Law #14” the Large Project Fund that would allow the Governor to “eliminate the contractor’s excise tax on construction projects that exceed $5 million in cost, on a case by case basis, when the Governor deems it beneficial to give the project a financial incentive”, 34% of the respondents supported the measure while 54% said they intended to vote no or were leaning toward a no vote.

On Constitutional Amendment “O”, which would change the way proceeds from the Cement Plant Trust Fund are allocated to support state aid to schools, respondents were overwhelmingly positive. 63% indicated that they would vote “Yes” to change the Constitutional language. Only 28% said they intended to vote “No”.


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