In U.S., Most Oppose State Gas Tax Hike to Fund Repairs

In U.S., Most Oppose State Gas Tax Hike to Fund Repairs

by Alyssa Brown

Democrats and Westerners more supportive of gas tax increase in states

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Two-thirds of Americans would vote against a state law that would increase the gas tax by up to 20 cents a gallon, with the revenue going toward improving roads and bridges and building more mass transit. Three in 10 Americans would vote for an increase in the gas tax in their state.

Next, suppose that on Election Day you could vote on key issues as well as candidates. Would you vote for or against ... ? April 2013 results

These data are from an April 9-10 Gallup poll, conducted about two weeks after Maryland lawmakers passed the first such increase in the state's gas tax in 20 years. The revenue from Maryland's gas tax increase -- which analysts predict will boost gas prices between 13 and 20 cents per gallon by mid-2016 -- will help support infrastructure and mass-transit projects. At least 17 states -- some of which are under Democratic and some under Republican control -- have recently approved or are considering gas tax hikes or fee changes to help fund infrastructure and mass-transit projects and repairs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Democrats, Westerners More Likely to Support Gas Tax Increase

Democrats are far more likely than Republicans and marginally more likely than independents to support increasing the gas tax to raise revenue for infrastructure and mass-transit projects, but no partisan group gives this proposal majority support. Also, lower- and upper-income Americans are marginally more likely than middle-income Americans to favor the gas tax increase.

Residents of the West are the most likely to support the gas tax hike, followed by Eastern residents. Americans in the Southern and Midwestern regions are less likely to support this proposal.

Americans' Support for Increasing the Gas Tax in Their State, by Demographic Group, April 2013

Bottom Line

A large majority of Americans, 66%, would vote against a law in their state that would increase the gas tax by as much as 20 cents a gallon to fund infrastructure and mass-transit projects. Such a proposal does not have majority support among any partisan group or in any region, though it is slightly more popular among Democrats and those living in the West.

It is not clear whether Americans' lack of support for this proposal stems from the type, amount, or purpose of the tax. Americans may be opposed to increasing the price of gas -- a necessary commodity for many individuals -- during a fragile economy, regardless of how the resulting funds are used.

Lawmakers in some states have approved or considered alternative revenue sources for infrastructure repairs, such as a sales tax or pay-per-mile fee, in hopes of winning more public support. Lawmakers in states such as Maryland, though, seem to think the benefits of completing overdue transportation and infrastructure projects outweigh the potential unpopularity of a gas tax hike.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted April 9-10, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 1,018 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphone numbers are selected using random digit dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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