Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Poll indicates that voters turned down Roads & Transit because of complexity, cost

Just released polling (PDF) conducted by EMC Research and Moore Information for Sound Transit suggests what we've guessed since Election Night: voters turned down the Roads & Transit package not because they felt it would harm the environment, but because it was too sophisticated and too big:
Proposition 1, the Roads & Transit proposal, which is likely headed for defeat, never recaptured the momentum that was lost as soon as opponents began attacking the plan. The support it enjoyed months ago was a mile wide and an inch deep. And it dried up as those who did not appreciate the ambitious, pragmatic approach to regional transportation for various reasons banded together and did everything they could to distort and manipulate the facts.

(Proud of your tight alliance with Kemper Freeman, Jr., Mike O'Brien?)
The Sierra Club has claimed that voters turned down Proposition 1 because they feared it would exacerbate the climate crisis.

But as this poll indicates, that's nonsense.

The poll asked 1,013 registered voters in the Sound Transit taxing district to rank their reasons (one to five) for voting against Roads & Transit. Out of the eleven total reasons, "global warming" was least important.

In other words, it was last.

Here are the full rankings, with 1 as the most important:
  1. Blank check/no cost control
  2. Cost too much
  3. [Wanted] separate measures
  4. Too big/smaller packages
  5. Don’t trust them
  6. Wouldn't reduce congestion
  7. Too much $$ for light rail
  8. Too long to complete
  9. Too much transit
  10. Too much roads
  11. Global warming
What stuck in the minds of voters were the No camp's distortions about the cost (including the conflicting numbers). Skittishness about committing to such a huge investment helped cause enough doubt to ensure Proposition 1's demise.

The Sierra Club's contribution was to lend support and credibility to the message and the campaign of Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman, Jr.. The chapter, which did not involve itself in the early planning of Roads & Transit, came to the party late and stabbed the rest of the local environmental community in the back after its last minute demands weren't met.

The poll found that the public still trusts Sound Transit. Even though Proposition 1 failed, the agency itself has not lost credibility:
In the wake of Proposition One’s defeat, Sound Transit and Light Rail both remain popular, providing further evidence that the election was not about the elements of the package. There has been no deterioration in Sound Transit’s overall favorable rating (64% Favorable / 24% Unfavorable) since April -- a strong majority of voters (59% or more) in all 5 subareas continue to view Sound Transit favorably.

However, when asked questions focusing directly on how Sound Transit is doing overall and with managing tax dollars responsibly, the results suggest the agency still has work to do in rebuilding public confidence, and informing voters about services Sound Transit has delivered to date.
Another insight from the poll: voters didn't like Olympia's meddling - the forcible pairing of roads and transit together in one package. NPI was uncomfortable with the marriage beginning with the day the stealth legislation emerged out of the statehouse, and voters hate the idea.

By a whopping 72% to 23% margin, respondents say they prefer separate roads & transit measures - clear evidence that Sound Transit 2 should stand on its own in a future vote without being tied to any roads package.

Asked about the future, poll respondents expressed support for extending the Link system as proposed in the Roads & Transit plan. Two-thirds or more (65%+) agree that "expanding light rail is a good investment for this region." And light rail is favored over conservative-touted bus rapid transit.

The only revenue source a majority of respondents indicated they would be willing to increase to pay for transportation investments are vehicle fees (54%), although tolls on major travel corridors came close (49%).

Respondents opposed the idea of increasing either sales or property taxes (only 23% and 22% were in favor of using those revenue sources, respectively).

This makes sense, given how broken our tax structure is. The sales and property taxes are already regressive and unfair. The problems have festered for years while Olympia has done nothing. Democratic leaders in the statehouse are unfortunately averse to tackling the issue, which has no easy solutions.

The best course of action for Sound Transit is to move forward with a new version of its plan from last year and put it on the ballot in 2008 without any roads project attached, relying on vehicle fees to provide a significant amount of the funding with the sales tax or other taxes as secondary revenue sources.

As for the Sierra Club, it can best undo the trouble it caused by committing to doing everything it can to help pass a transit measure next November.


Anonymous MBLT said...

What do you think of Sightline's analysis?

November 28, 2007 8:30 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home