Iowa: Banks' Negative Ads Backfire

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A survey here shows banks slipping in public opinion, while credit unions have been rising. The survey, the second of its kind, was conducted by the Iowa CU League and CUNA commissioned Voter/Consumer Research to gauge public sentiment on the issue of credit union taxation.

The first poll, conducted in February 2003, showed that Iowans were split on the issue of credit union taxation, with 49% favoring banks and 44% favoring credit unions. This was prior to a negative, statewide advertising campaign by bankers to raise credit unions' taxes, the league said.

A follow-up survey in December found a significant shift: 39% favored banks compared to 53% siding with credit unions. "Iowa credit unions amassed an unprecedented amount of grassroots support from their 850,000 members during the 2003 tax debate," said Murray Williams, director of strategic alliances and public affairs. "Educating legislators, media and consumers was our top priority. This significant shift in public sentiment validates the collective effort put forth by our credit unions to preserve their not-for-profit tax status."

The December survey also revealed that overall opinion toward credit unions is rising, while the view toward banks is declining. According to the league, when asked if Iowans' attitudes had changed during the tax battle, 26% said their opinion of credit unions improved, while 22% said their opinion of banks declined. Other findings revealed that Iowa consumers prefer legislators who vote with credit unions as opposed to those who vote with banks.

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