The people of Connecticut need booze and bong hits to ease the pain of higher taxes, according to two new Quinnipiac University polls released this week. Or maybe that’s just me. But the support for decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana is overwhelming: 65-32 overall and virtually the same split between Republicans (70-27) and Democrats (70-28). Even seniors are in favor (party at the assisted living facility!) with voters over age 65 supporting the proposal 58-38 percent.
We also haven’t bought into the Connecticut State Package Store Association (CPSA) fear mongering and support the option of buying our liquor on Sunday when we do the rest of the shopping by 66-31 percent, the highest level of support ever for this question according to Quinnipiac, up from 56-39 percent twelve months ago.
What we’re not very happy about, apparently, is Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed budget. Connecticut Republican Chairman Chris Healy waxed poetic in his press release about the Q-Poll results: “Poll Tolls for Thee: State not buying Malloy budget.” Methinks John Donne is rolling in his grave. But while Malloy’s 35 percent approval rating isn’t cause for celebration, I think Healy’s premature gloating (and apparent inability to sift through the crosstabs) shows why he’s being challenged for the party leadership.
Sure, 35 percent approval isn’t great, but 25 percent of those polled were undecided, so his approval/disapproval was actually 35 percent to 40 percent.
I don’t think Gov. Malloy had any illusions that this budget would make him “popular” in the near term. Crafting a solution to a seemingly insurmountable problem rarely gets you crowned Prom King. But what Healy seems to have forgotten in his crowing is that making no decision is a decision. Former governor Jodi Rell may have walked away with the Most Popular Governor sash but now our state’s being forced to pay the piper for her desire to remain everyone’s favorite Grandma.
Voters in “the land of steady habits” have woken up to smell the coffee. Many more of us, (77 percent) recognize that our budget problems are very serious, compared to 61 percent two years ago. By a narrow 50-46 percent margin, we recognize a tax hike is necessary to balance the budget. Yet as much as we might know intellectually the budget hole must be filled and spending cuts alone can’t do it, no one ever likes a tax hike, especially when it hits where it hurts – in one’s own wallet. I think this poll is very much a reflection of that – as we’re all digesting how much of the vaunted “shared sacrifice” is coming out of our family’s pocketbook.
Why do I think Healy is so mistaken by going all John Donne on Malloy about this poll? Because he either didn’t read the whole thing, or typically, just picked the bits that suited him. Here’s the thing: despite the fact that “Connecticut voters are in a grumpy mood,” according to Quinnipiac’s Doug Schwartz, they remain optimistic, 55-39 percent, about the next four years under Governor Malloy, which tells me that they might not like him for feeding them unpalatable medicine, but deep down they know it’ll do more good for the state in the long run than the previous governor’s inaction.
Sarah Darer Littman is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers and an award-winning novelist of books for teens. Long before the financial meltdown, she worked as a securities analyst and earned her MBA in Finance from the Stern School at NYU.