Who's winning the Beverage Tax fight?

Both proponents and opponents of the Cook County beverage tax have been extremely vocal over the past few weeks. Those in favor of the tax—especially billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg—have been flooding the airways with ads warning of the dangers of sweetened beverages. Opponents—including strongly worded newspaper editorials—have been pointing out the negative economic effects of the tax on consumers and businesses alike. Who’s winning? We Ask America decided to find an answer based on two straight-forward questions asked to more than 1,000 likely voters:

  1. As you may know, the Cook County Board will have the opportunity in October to REPEAL the beverage tax. Do you think the County Board should KEEP, or REPEAL the Cook County beverage tax?
  2. If your county commissioner voted to KEEP the beverage tax, would you be MORE LIKELY, or LESS LIKELY to support his or her re-election? “

Click HERE to download the poll results.


  1. Despite millions of dollars in ads justifying the beverage, Cook County voters continue to overwhelmingly favor a repeal of it. While there is no reason to say that people disagree with the health warnings being issued in the ads, it is safe to assume that voters are not persuaded that the tax is a good thing.  Similar to earlier polls before the onslaught of ads, people want the beverage tax to go away. Period.
  2. This could be THE issue in next year’s County Board Election. The continued strength of disdain over the tax in the wake of an incredible wave of anti-beverage ads is an indication of deeply rooted positions. Is the Beverage Tax the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back? Perhaps. Voters who got walloped by recent property tax hikes were probably itching to act out, and the Commissioners who used the health argument to vote for it whiffed in their explanation. The beverage tax provides an easy target for organized opponents who will be hurling five-second sound bites that require five-minute responses—never a good thing in politics. Pro-tax commissioners are walking on extremely thin ice that can crack if a quality opponent steps onto the same pond.
  3. If the beverage tax influences higher turnout in the next Primary, pro-tax commissioners will suffer. There is a sizable swing on the re-elect question between one-of-three and three-of-three Democratic voters. Any increase in turnout will be a sizable drag for commissioners who voted for the beverage tax.

Poll details: Type: Hybrid; automated to landline phones, live operator interviews to cell phones.  Responses: 1,056 registered Voters Margin of Error: 3.02% Poll dates: Sept.