The telephone survey of 500 likely Nevada voters was conducted Feb. 8-10 by Republican pollster Glen Bolger. It had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points and was commissioned by the Retail Association of Nevada.
The findings come as the 2011 Legislature, controlled by Democrats, grapples with a state budget deficit estimated between $1.2 billion and $3 billion. Sandoval, a first-term Republican, has proposed cutting $1.6 billion from existing spending levels in his $5.8 billion, two-year budget proposal.
Sandoval has said he won't raise taxes or fees, arguing that would be the worst thing Nevada could do as it tries to crawl out of the Great Recession and leads the nation in joblessness, bankruptcies and foreclosures.
Though 52 percent said they would favor raising taxes to avoid deep cuts to education and social services, 37 percent said government should cut spending.
"Support for raising taxes to address the budget shortfall is at an all-time high," the survey said.
Still, 61 percent said raising taxes or fees would lead to more job losses in a state with a 14.5 percent unemployment rate. More than half, 52 percent, said taxes or fees would hurt Nevada's efforts to diversify its economy, while 45 percent believed it would have no impact.
Also, 56 percent said additional spending cuts can be absorbed by trimming waste and abuse.
If taxes are raised to close the budget gap, 82 percent said the levies should be temporary.
Part of Sandoval's budget involves eliminating one-day-per-month furloughs for state employees and imposing a 5 percent salary cut instead. Respondents to the survey favored the idea 57 percent to 39 percent, but 74 percent said teacher salaries should not be included, with 24 percent saying they should.
• 55 percent favored instituting a corporate income tax.
• Voters were split over whether Nevada's tax structure should be overhauled, with 46 percent saying the current system works well and 48 percent saying it needs significant change. In May 2009, the breakdown was 56 percent for the current system versus 39 percent calling for change.
• For funding higher education and making up shortfalls, 36 percent said state taxes should be raised, 32 percent said tuition should be increased, 21 percent said budgets should be cut, and 11 percent were undecided.
On the political front, the survey said 69 percent of respondents are pessimistic about the state's direction, while 24 percent said it was on the right track.
Sandoval received an overall approval rating of 47 percent, compared with 26 percent who disapprove of his job performance so far. Not surprisingly, his greatest support was among Republicans, who gave him a 66 psercent approval rating. Among independents, 41 percent rated him favorably and 20 percent disapproved. Among Democrats, 34 percent approved and 44 percent disapproved.
The governor's approval rating, however, outpaced public opinion about the Legislature, which received an overall disapproval rating of 36 percent, compared with 35 percent of respondents who viewed legislators favorably.