Gas Tax Poll Summary

Chicagoans are desperate to enjoy their summer after having to cancel summer plans last year, yet the price of gas is rising significantly, causing us to wonder if the rising price of gas would force families to alter their travel plans. Especially with gas tax increases going into effect this week.

We commissioned an internal automated poll to ask Chicagoans their thoughts on gas prices, increasing gas taxes, and their summer travel plans. Our partners at Victory Geek collected 1,032 responses (margin of error: ±3.05%), which our data experts have modeled and weighted.

77% of Chicagoans are concerned about rising gas prices, with gas reaching a 6 year high of $3.11/gallon this week in the national average (compared to $2.18/gallon a year ago). This includes 49% who indicate they are very concerned, while only 21% are not concerned at all.

This concern is impacting family travel plans. 49% of Chicagoland residents say they have had to alter their family’s summer travel plans as a result of rising gas prices. Of those, 27% say they will limit the number and/or distance of trips, 15% say they will cancel travel, and 7% say they will switch to another mode of transportation.

These numbers are a complete flip from last year, when 36% of Americans said they were more likely to take a road trip because of low gas prices, according to a nationwide survey conducted by GasBuddy and publicized by MarketWatch.

Illinois’ fuel prices are the highest in the Midwest, nearly 12% higher than Wisconsin and 7% higher than Indiana, which is pushing some Chicagoland families to cross state lines to fill up. 42% of Chicagoland drivers said they are likely to travel to Indiana or Wisconsin to get their gas, a number which grows to 61% in the border counties of Lake and Cook.

One of the primary drivers for Illinois’ high fuel prices are our gas taxes, which are the 3rd highest in the country. The state doubled its motor fuel tax in 2019 and instituted automatic annual gas tax increases for inflation every July 1st, with the 2021 increase occurring this Thursday. Chicagoland residents are strongly opposed to these automatic annual gas tax increases, even when informed they are to fund transportation projects. 64% oppose the gas tax increases, including 45% who strongly oppose them, while only 27% support them. It’s unsurprising that Republicans oppose a tax increase (76% opposition), but so do Independents (68% opposition) and even Democrats (53%).

On top of the state’s high gas taxes, many counties and municipalities add their own taxes and fees to the price of gas. A number of Chicagoland counties are considering additional gas taxes to fund transportation projects, with Lake County instituting a 4-cents-a-gallon tax this week. Yet Chicagoland residents are even more opposed to these additional county taxes, with 69% opposed (51% strongly) compared to only 23% supportive. Opposition in Lake County is even stronger, with 58% strongly opposed. Once again opposition crosses party lines, with Republicans (84%), Independents (70%), and Democrats 59%) all opposed.

This poll shows that rising gas prices and increased gas taxes are hitting Chicagoans at the absolute worst possible time. Many families desperately need a break from the stress and anxiety of the past year, yet rising gas prices and increased gas taxes are forcing many of those families to alter or even cancel these much-needed vacations.

Collin Corbett
Founding Visionary – Cor Strategies

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