Why the widely differing straw poll results on the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment?

I blogged a straw poll here on Locally Grown on Oct 20 that asked:

On Nov. 4, will you vote for the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment?


Yes (56%, 76 Votes)
No (44%, 59 Votes)
Total Voters: 135

The Northfield News ran a similar straw poll on Oct 25 that asked:

Will you vote to approve an increase in the sales tax to support the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment?


No 61.4%
Yes 33.1%
I don’t know 5.5%
Totals voters: 145

I was surprised at the difference until I noticed that the paper’s question included the phrase “vote to approve an increase in the sales tax to…”

Could it be that LoGroNo site visitors didn’t realize that voting ‘yes’ means voting for an increase in the sales tax?  If not that, then what’s the reason for the discrepancy?


  1. Griff, I think the “discrepancy” is simply that there were 135 and 145 voters, not a significant number
    to accurately predict anything. As the Northfield News says with its poll: “Poll results do not represent a scientific survey.”

    October 30, 2008
  2. Peter Millin said:

    I am not surprised on the difference in vote between Northfield News and this site.

    The majority of the posters here lean to the left and believe that government is the solution to all of our problems.

    October 30, 2008
  3. Peter Millin said:

    The Star Tribune has done a similar poll some time back. 70% voted against the proposal.

    We are about to loose another major corporation here in Minnesota, which is not surprising.
    We hold the dubious record of being the 5th highest taxed state in the USA.

    October 30, 2008
  4. Sean Fox said:

    Off topics but….
    Peter, you imply that that NWA getting bought by Delta is somehow correlated with taxes in MN? I fail to see the connection. Major corporations don’t choose their headquarter locations based on local tax codes. A quick review of the location of Fortune 500 companies shows that (with the exception of Texas) low-tax states do a poor job of attracting these large companies.

    Perhaps large corporations are interested in getting excellent employees and excellent employees are interested in living in places where the quality of life is high and that is in part of a result of the community investing in common goods like education and infrastructure.

    October 30, 2008
  5. Peter, I think your #2 is right — at the very least, the commenters at the Northfield News site seem to be very far right of most of Northfield.

    October 30, 2008
  6. Peter Millin said:

    Of course the actual purchase has nothing to do with the taxes. However the decision to move the headquarters to Atlanta sure does.

    October 30, 2008
  7. Felicity Enders said:

    1. The sample size of both “polls” is quite small, and thus subject to quite a lot of variability based on small differences in the respondents.

    2. Straw polls are not real polls! They are subject to bias with respect to who sees the poll, who chooses to answer the poll, and even who is able to answer the poll (based on IP address).

    Both polls have the same set of concerns. Let’s wait and see what the voters say.

    October 30, 2008
  8. Jane Moline said:

    Peter: there was no decision to “move” headquarters to Atlanta. Delta’s headquarters are in Atlanta already. Why in the world did you ever move to Minnesota if we are such an awful tax state?

    I lean EXTREMELY left and I do not believe the government is the answer to everything. I do not like bigger governement. I do believe the government is in the position to do things that we are unable to do on our own. Like build roads and bridges and REGULATE commerce.

    Please quit slamming me because I am a Democrat. I am not a socialist or a marxist or a communist. I am an American, and I have suffered enough at the hands of “conservatives” who have robbed our country blind.

    By the way, VOTE NO on the amendment. It is bad government policy to fund necessary environmental costs through an amendment to the constitution. It will guarantee that future legislators would use it as an excuse to NOT properly fund environmental (and arts) needs. They will claim that since it already gets funding from the sales tax, they don’t have to budget for any more through the biennial process. Regardless is sales tax revenues decrease or environmental costs rise.

    October 30, 2008
  9. Jane:

    It will guarantee that future legislators would use it as an excuse to NOT properly fund environmental (and arts) needs.

    Clearly they don’t need an excuse. They’re already underfunding — that’s why we have the question of this amendment. And according to this Star Trib article, the new money from the sales tax would dwarf the current arts budget. This is not just a supplement that needs to be backed up by legislative action — at least not for 25 years.

    If we had a 134 David Blys in the state house, then maybe we wouldn’t have to do this, but we don’t. Even with a DFL majority, these two groups are critically underfunded. Be pragmatic and vote yes.

    October 30, 2008
  10. Speaking of the Star Tribune, I hope you guys all read this essay (to be printed tomorrow) by former DFL governor Wendell Anderson. It begins:

    The question has been posed: Why amend the Constitution to ensure investment in clean water, habitat and culture?

    The first section of Minnesota’s Constitution says it all:

    “Government is instituted for the security, benefit and protection of the people, in whom all political power is inherent, together with the right to alter, modify or reform government whenever required by the common good.”

    October 30, 2008
  11. Paul Zorn said:


    I appreciate your viewpoint, but I’m going to hold my nose and vote for the Amendment.

    I’ll vote for it because I think these causes need a reliable source of funds. I’ll hold my nose because I don’t like the idea of doing the legislature’s work for it, by amendment.

    In a better system legislators would do the right thing without being forced to. But this is the world we have.

    On the matter of Minnesota’s tax burden in general. Peter’s assertion that we rank exactly 5th among states is probably debatable, but it’s quite true that Minnesota has — and has for several decades had — a high tax/high services model by comparison to other American states. (Things would look different from, say, Denmark, of course.)

    If taxes and government spending were simply and always bad, then we’d expect Minnesota to have withered on the vine while lower-taxed states got fat and rich. But Minnesota is consistently among the healthier and wealthier states, with lower-than-average levels of social ills, good rankings on quality of life, attractiveness to immigrants, etc. High taxes (by US standards) may not cause good outcomes, but apparently they don’t prevent them.

    October 30, 2008
  12. Holly Cairns said:

    Hey, off topic but still relevant, did Northwest take advantage of the TIF program? Did they ever pay, or did bankruptcy occur and no pay of taxes? And now they are leaving…

    October 30, 2008
  13. Holly Cairns said:

    I always wondered if you were holding your nose on that couch, Paul Z.

    Speaking of the couch, what the heck?

    October 30, 2008
  14. Paul Zorn said:


    Good questions about the couch. Actually, I’m eating an ice cream cone. We don’t normally keep our furniture outside, but this couch was on the way to a new home, and I thought the photo suggested the life I’d like to aspire to as a gentleman of leisure. Others have suggested something closer to fraternity row.

    October 31, 2008
  15. Patrick Enders said:

    Felicity left out the biggest problem with online straw polls:

    3) People can very easily vote more than once, if they so desire. This is particularly true on the Nfld News site.

    October 31, 2008
  16. Peter Millin said:

    Of course Delta’s headquarters are in Atlanta. I used to work in Atlanta and Delta was one of our biggest costumers. I even had the pleasure to meet Jimmy Carter since he was sitting on the Delta advisory board.

    Maybe I didn’t make myself clear enough (again). When two companies merge there is a discussion on where to put the headquarters. This discussion is based on economics, which includes tax climate (maybe in this case just climate LOL) and issues like Unions and general expenses.

    Jane I am not slamming you I am making a statement. Some of your comments about government powers clearly go beyond what was allowed for in the constitution.
    I still try to find the passage where it says that government should be involved in redistributing wealth.

    Going back to the issue at hand. I do support our desire to protect our environment. Most of our family vacations we spend camping which really makes you appreciate a well protected environment.
    In my mind we should expand the national and state park systems. We have enough land available to build houses and exapnd protected lands.

    However the proposed amendment gives state government a source of revenue that is beyond yearly control.
    Plus I completely disagree with the notion that government should fund the arts in this particular way.
    Who will decide on what is “worthwhile art” and gets funding and what doesn’t deserve funding.
    Some might think that putting a cross in a bowl of urine qualifies as art I think its gross and way beyond good taste.

    This money would be much better spend in funding arts and music classes in schools.

    October 31, 2008

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