Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Alyssa Erdley
Observer Staff 

Push Poll Tries to Convince Santa Monica Voters to Vote for New Transfer Tax

Poll attempts to discover what budgetary priority would motivate voters

 

John Alle

Symbol of Santa Monica - would someone asleep under a blanket outside in the park be able to handle a real apartment? And why should they get one paid for by hardworking building owners?

April 28, 2022 - A push poll interview company is calling Santa Monica voters to gauge their response to Sue Himmelrich's ballot proposal to establish an increase over the current tax on sales of property over $8 million. Push polls are billed as surveys of opinion to the respondent but actually give information in an attempt to sway the voter.

Himmelrich, who happens to be the mayor of Santa Monica, is allegedly spending her and her husband's own personal money to pay signature gatherers who are posted outside popular area stores. Himmelrich's campaign literature claims the real estate transfer tax is only a 5% increase on primarily apartment building owners and would generate $50 million in increased revenue. The lion's share of the money generated would go toward building affordable housing and some would go to the schools. Her claims are disputed by Marc Verville, writing for Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow (SMart) in the Santa Monica Mirror. Verville says the tax would be over 8 times, or 800%, of the current tax rate and 10 times higher than the rate in Los Angeles. "Currently, the sale of an $8M property in Santa Monica triggers $56,800 in transfer tax. If this initiative is passed, that tax would go up by $400,000 to $456,800, regardless of how long a property was held," Verville wrote.

Crime map of Santa Monica, an issue voters don't believe will be solved via affordable housing

In the push poll, the telephone interviewer asks the respondent what their initial vote is for the tax proposal. The interviewer then asks the respondent to judge the believability of the claims on both sides. The sponsor of the poll is given away when the interviewer asks the respondent to rank who the money should be spent: on public safety, affordable housing, homeless shelters, schools, and so forth. After educating and attempting to persuade the respondent through such "questions," the interviewer again asks the respondent if they would vote for the tax.

The telephone push poll interview is long, and only voters who feel passionately about the issue on one side or the other are likely to stay on the line long enough to answer all the questions. Since these are the least likely to change their vote, the poll will likely not sway any fence-sitting voters.

 

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