T-SPLOST: Is traffic just not as bad for Republicans?

The AJC ran a couple of stories recently reporting the results of an opinion poll regarding the T-SPLOST referendum. My colleague Jim Galloway posted the cross tabs for the poll Monday, and a lot of the findings are predictable — e.g., self-identified Republicans are less likely to support a tax increase.

The most interesting finding in my view, however, was on a question that would seem to have nothing to do with partisanship or ideology: How often are you inconvenienced by traffic congestion?

Here are the results:

Democrats:

Daily — 28%; A Few Days a Week — 34%; Rarely — 27%; Never — 11%

Republicans:

Daily — 17%; A Few Days a Week — 26%; Rarely — 42%; Never — 15%

Independents:

Daily — 21%; A Few Days a Week — 49%; Rarely — 27%; Never — 2%

I was shocked by the difference between traffic problems for Democrats and Independents and those for Republicans. There are as many GOPers who say they rarely are inconvenienced by traffic as there are who say it happens daily or a few times a week. Frequent traffic jams confront 62 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of Independents, but only 43 percent of Republicans.

What gives?

According to the poll, Democrats are more than twice as likely as Republicans and almost three times as likely as Independents to use mass transit regularly, so it’s not that Republicans are using other commuting options in greater numbers. And we know from voting patterns that counties like Cobb, Cherokee, Gwinnett and Fayette, as well as North Fulton — places where you’d expect commutes to be worst — are heavily Republican.

I guess a lot of retirees may have identified as Republicans. But enough to account for such a large difference?

Any other ideas out there? And could it be that, besides being generally anti-tax, metro Atlanta Republicans might oppose the T-SPLOST because traffic simply isn’t as big of a problem for them?

– By Kyle Wingfield

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99 comments Add your comment

Joel Edge

September 27th, 2011
5:44 am

Maybe Democarts just like to complain more than Republicans. That liberal mindset of victimization.

David Green

September 27th, 2011
5:47 am

It seems that republicans like to sit in stop and go traffic.

El Foldo

September 27th, 2011
6:36 am

“inconvenienced” is a vague term.

TeachAManToFish

September 27th, 2011
6:37 am

Excellent comment Joel.

Joel Edge

September 27th, 2011
6:38 am

Now if I just learn to spell ‘democrats’. Early morning typing.

TeachAManToFish

September 27th, 2011
6:39 am

The Republicans are getting up and going to work earlier before traffic is bad. They also leave work after the traffic. That’s why they have most of the money.

Justin Case

September 27th, 2011
6:45 am

Joel & Teach has got it right!!!

Fred

September 27th, 2011
6:47 am

Republicans have an average higher IQ than Democrats, so they figure out a way to avoid traffic. Plus they don’t stop at as many fast foot joints like Michael Moore does for example.

independent voter

September 27th, 2011
6:48 am

Yes !! Repubs are the entrepenuers who start, own, manage, businesses…. work longer….50 to 60 hrs.+++ / week… save and invest…. Union workers just barely get to work on time… 8 hrs…. 40 hrs./week…. stuck in 9 to 5 traffic… and they do have a negative attitude… victims subject to class warfare Obama feeds them !!!

Ayn Rant

September 27th, 2011
6:59 am

Here’s an explanation: the Republican base consists of a few greedy rich people who can afford to live close to their banks and securities exchanges in Buckhead and Midtown, and a lot of shallow-thinking poor people who are either retired on Social Security and Medicare or just plain unqualified for in town jobs.

Sarah Palin - the world's #1 victim

September 27th, 2011
7:01 am

but I digress… two points:

Republicans are generally higher earners. Many of them are business owners and can work from home, set their own hours, and set outside appointments according to rush hour traffic. Many dems are hourly workers, who do not have these advantages. They have to be at work when it opens and leave when it closes.

Many republicans are older and/or retired. They don’t have to fight traffic to drop off their kids at school. Or punch a clock. See above.

Stereotypical

September 27th, 2011
7:11 am

Maybe it is because Republicans are split among two groups: the very rich and the poor, dumb rednecks who can’t get abortion off their mind. The first group can work from home and do their stock trades that they are taxed at a maximum rate of 15% for. The second group lives near their work (which is nowhere near downtown Atlanta) and thus avoids the Atlanta traffic.

ragnar danneskjold

September 27th, 2011
7:17 am

Dear Kyle, I think you hit a hot button. The responses here today may be funnier than the comic pages – republicans arguing that the democrats are whiners in numerous different ways, and democrats affirming that republicans are somehow immune to the problems suffered by democrats.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

September 27th, 2011
7:17 am

“And we know from voting patterns that counties like Cobb, Cherokee, Gwinnett and Fayette, as well as North Fulton — places where you’d expect commutes to be worst — are heavily Republican.”

A lot of those areas VOTE heavily Republican, but IDENTIFY THEMSELVES as Independents because to many of those suburban voters, the Democrats are REALLY evil and the Republicans are slighty less evil, but still overwhelmingly evil enough to make culturally conservative voters disgusted enough to not want to be identify as being officially associated with the Republican Party while being totally repulsed and sickened by Dems.

shawny

September 27th, 2011
7:17 am

Yeah, we carpool and plan ahead too.

Mr. Obvious

September 27th, 2011
7:20 am

I think that TeachAManToFish is correct with his comments. I am surprised with the results of the poll because I thought most Democrats sat at home waiting on their government checks, thus avoiding traffic.

explanation

September 27th, 2011
7:29 am

Some Republicans answer that way b/c they don’t want to provide fuel for making the case for public transportation.

Also, a larger number of Republicans are affluent. That makes it easier to work near where they live or increases the chances that they have a work-from-home job. Lower income folks just need work and will go where ever they have to.

Always Skeptical

September 27th, 2011
7:38 am

The demographic is older and more likely to be retired. I bet you if the 65+ set were eligible for a 250-500 dollars tax credit for the transportation tax, their “all-me-all-the-time” attititude of general self interest would allow themselves the vote for the sales tax…

edward irvin

September 27th, 2011
7:38 am

Republicans are more prone to realize that the revenue from a soon to be 10 percent sales tax in Atlanta will do nothing to mitigate traffic, but instead will go almost certainly to fund MARTA and GDOT pension and healthcare obligations with very little left over.

JDW

September 27th, 2011
7:39 am

Kyle, this one is simple…Republicans are simply delusional and partially ostrich. They stick their heads in the sand everyday. Traffic…hummm lets see it would be nice to fix that problem…o’ we need a tax…problem? What problem?

It is a quite common phenomenon note global warming, evolution, the reality of fixing the deficit, Ronald Reagan, stem cell research, the Good Ol’ Days…Republicans simply create an alternative reality for themselves in their minds and live there.

ByteMe

September 27th, 2011
7:54 am

It is a quite common phenomenon note global warming, evolution, the reality of fixing the deficit, Ronald Reagan, stem cell research, the Good Ol’ Days…Republicans simply create an alternative reality for themselves in their minds and live there.

That ^^^

Global warming? “I can use my swimming pool more!”

Evolution? “I ain’t descended from no damn monkey! Those other people, now maybe that’s true.”

The deficit? “We could close the deficit hole by just stopping subsidies to PBS and NPR!”

Ronald Reagan? “Reagan stood up to those commies and that’s why the wall fell!”

Stem cell research? “I don’t care if those embryos are going to be thrown out, they can’t use them for anything else! And if I could write a law to make them use those embryos, that would work too!”

The Good Ol’ Days? “Things were wonderful when I was 6!”

ByteMe

September 27th, 2011
7:57 am

It’s fun to turn the other side into one-dimensional cartoons, isn’t it? :lol:

United States of Idiocy

September 27th, 2011
7:59 am

four possible answers to your question, kyle:

1. There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.
2. It has long recognized by public men of all kinds … that statistics come under the head of lying, and that no lie is so false or inconclusive as that which is based on statistics.
3. Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.
4. If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.

you’re quite welcome.

Road Scholar

September 27th, 2011
8:06 am

Most of the conservative responses above are just plain stupid! But Edwin, you take the cake! I can’t decide if you are stupid, or paranoid…..or both! Do you not know he rules attached to the sales tax implementation? I bet not!

Maybe since the repubs don’t have congestion, we need to redirect the funds to area that need congestion relief?Add congestion to the long list of issues the repubs ignore…science, math, stem cell research, women’s rights, etc. etc. etc.

MARTA Rida

September 27th, 2011
8:08 am

I agree that most Republicans voted that way just so they couldn’t be viewed as siding with a need for mass transit, or maybe they enjoy sitting in traffic and listening to Rush and Sean Hannity while their blood pressure rises and they die at an early age. Hope they enjoy spending half their lives stuck in traffic as I whiz by on my MARTA train reading a book and enjoying a stress-free commute. I laugh at those poor souls stuck in traffic everytime I see the congestion on 400 north or 285!

glenn campagna...i have been out of georgia before)

September 27th, 2011
8:15 am

the BELTLINE is the SINGLE most important Oppurtunity to create a thriving Serious Atlanta/METRO Atlanta. if people can’t see this then they need to get out of dodge and do a little traveling and See the World. the Core of any major world class city is the driver that helps support any large metro area.

Secondly i would do the line to cobb. Then a line on the top arc of 285.

THIS all seems so Obvious, but everbody is just too selfish, stupid and short-sighted to see the BIG picture. it’s a GAme instead of trying to help our people, state and Metro Area.

John

September 27th, 2011
8:16 am

At least us commuters have the Lexus lanes to reduce congestion on I-85. Now us rich people can afford to get to work quicker. Who cares if its going to make driving more congested for those that can’t afford it. The SRTA and Gena gets a huge thumbs up from me! Can’t wait for more of these throughout Georgia.

mike "hussein" smith

September 27th, 2011
8:22 am

the republicans are lying because they don’t want to be taxed a penny more. Wait till the tax loses and their carping will start again.

LC

September 27th, 2011
8:22 am

I’m Republican but I realize the need for passing the T-SPLOST. I have virtually no traffic difficulties around Atlanta but I realize many do as do companies that are considering relocating or expanding in Atlanta do. It’s difficult to grow a business in an area where there is stagnant or slow growth – hard to find good employees because the most ambitious move to place where the job prospects are better. Regardless of whether you’re a waiter, a mechanic, hairdresser, real estate sales or business owner you need a growing economy to see your career advance and pay increase. If the business that you work for is just limping along, then the boss can’t afford to give you that raise. But if new people are moving to town with that corporate relocation, then that equals more customers going to your restaurant or whatever business you work at. We have to invest in ourselves, in order to grow and this T-SPLOST is not just handing money over to government for them to waste, it is for a predetermined set of projects to be built (AND MAINTAINED) over the 10 year horizon. The only way that it would run beyond the 10 year horizon, would be for a new list of equally ambitious projects and for voters to approve it once again. Vote for the T-SPLOST, it is a vote for your own career growth if you hope to stay in the Atlanta region.

carlosgvv

September 27th, 2011
8:27 am

Maybe Republicans are more likely to be high on alcohol or drugs while driving and just don’t feel the inconvience of traffic jams. Also, being dirt road dumb helps to ease the pain.

Laurie

September 27th, 2011
8:28 am

I indentify myself as a democrat, mostly, my commute to work includes 575/75, and I can tell you there IS a traffic issue up there. Developers keep building fancy subdivisions without having to pay for the infrastructure to support it. So hundreds of thousands of drivers are tasked with navigating a 2 lane highway to 75, because guess what else we don’t have… wait for it… that’s right… reasonable mass transit. As a matter of fact, I only know of one vanpool service to Alpharetta, and another service for the airport. Luckily, I only have to drive into the city twice a week, and am able to work from home the rest. Next question, is traffic so bad that I would consider mass transit as a viable alternative to driving into Atlanta? My answer is no. Instead, I get up at 5 am and try to beat the rush. But if I have to start setting my alarm for 4 am, I might have a different point of view. As for T-SPLOST, I’ll be voting no as I think there is way to much waste in government spending and no end in sight.

Buford Citizen

September 27th, 2011
8:28 am

For many in Gwinnett, SPLOST has become a dirty word thanks to the follies of our county commissioners over the years including waste, fraud and abuse. Recently we were told that some parks will need to be closed due to lack of maintenance funds. SPLOTS have been used for years to build stuff that Gwinnett County can’t afford to keep up and maintain. Included are all the Libraries some of which have been forced to close or cut operations.

This November Gwinnett will have on the ballot another “E” SPLOST for education. A SPLOST here and a SPLOST there…a SPLOST everywhere. Besides that, TSPLOST is about having a regional entity determine the transportation projects the sales tax collected in a county goes to instead of the counties. T-SPLOST takes away local control by allowing the wishes of the voters in each county to be overridden by the collective vote of the region. Not a very appealing thing with the current county commissioner situation already angering the citizens daily.

Put all of this together with the fact that the current transit buses Gwinnett operates have few riders or are just empty driving around and think you may have a better picture of how the citizens will vote. Trust in SPLOST is just not there.

Benny

September 27th, 2011
8:35 am

Democrats like to whine about everything in an effort to tax and spend. Why? Because they are democrats. I love how they always make a catastrophe out of everything except personal responsibility and work ethic. If you do not like the traffic move away from the traffic. Whining and throwing money at this will not solve the problem (look at LA). But democrats think they always have the answer and like a belly button is usually worthless. Unfortunately, I like democrats as they constantly remind me of what is truly important in life. Finally, for those that cannot afford it maybe you should evaluate your life and actually try to get ahead. Buy books for your children, go get some form of schooling, work to get ahead in life. I was raised poor and quickly realized that whining got me nothing and effort made my life a lot better. But if more poor whiny democrats did that then the democratic party would go away. That would be a shame. What would the AJC do then for the blogs? I guess now I get condemned for hard work and personal responsibility so give it your best shot. Yes, I am a minority and an independent which means I can think for myself.

JohnnyReb

September 27th, 2011
8:36 am

It’s amazing how those living on the Northside see T-SPLOST as a no-brainer. But then again, why wouldn’t they? The project list is loaded for North of I-20 and will take 85% of the taxes collected from Southern counties to fund same.

ByteMe

September 27th, 2011
8:37 am

and will take 85% of the taxes collected from Southern counties to fund same.

Not intended to be a factual statement.

ByteMe

September 27th, 2011
8:39 am

Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson, chairman of the group of regional leaders tasked to come up with a list of projects, said, “Every county is getting at least 75 percent or 80 percent of what they’re putting in.”

http://www.politifact.com/georgia/statements/2011/sep/20/debbie-dooley/could-counties-be-out-luck-if-sales-tax-passes/

Call it like it is

September 27th, 2011
8:43 am

Can’t speak for all Republicans, but I know I’m leery of the tax and don’t trust that the funds will be used appropriately. Our government has already showed once that they will lie, just look at the toll booths on 400. They closed them down “one” week and then open them right back up. Also I know every time I see CCT bus, it’s a ¼ full. We have issues that need to be addressed, but throwing more money at Marta, and funding pork barrel projects is not the answer. But of course proponents for this should start up their scary commercials here soon, and it will get passed.

November 6, 2012

September 27th, 2011
8:44 am

Kyle, Open Thine Eyes So That You May See……The Idiocy Of Your Fol-ly. I’m a poet!!!! I’m a poet!!!! D’oh Please publish a breakdown of the racial makeup of those polled and then do the numbers and you will see how stupid your stupid poll is. Doesn’t have anything to do with whether you’re a D, R or an I. TSPLOST will fail and fail miserably…..you don’t raise/impose taxes in a down economy with an unemployment rate at 9.1% (actually, it’s probably twice that rate), but you know how our government likes to skew things. If passed (which it won’t) it will not be a 10 Years Tax but a “forever tax”, there’s no way all those things will get done in ten years (didja hear ’bout the Ga 400 Toll extension?). I don’t trust politicians (any politicians, state or federal) to use our tax dollars wisely, I mean, you ever heard of “Solyndra”.

Road Scholar

September 27th, 2011
8:46 am

So if the conservatives are all knowing, where are the jobs? Why do we have ANY congestion? Air pollution? Pipeline spills? Oh the uncertainty! Oh the whining!

PS When was there no uncertainty?

DannyX

September 27th, 2011
8:56 am

“Democrats like to whine about everything in an effort to tax and spend. Why?”

Democrats whining? Sounds like you are whining about the fact that Democrats support the REPUBLICAN tax plan.

The transportation sales tax plan is a REPUBLICAN plan, remember Dems no longer have power in Georgia.

The REPUBLICAN plan would be the largest tax increase in Georgia history!

ByteMe

September 27th, 2011
8:58 am

The REPUBLICAN plan would be the largest tax increase in Georgia history!

Cognitive dissonance. You must be mistaken. This is a Democrat’s wet dream. :)

JohnnyReb

September 27th, 2011
8:59 am

ByteMe – the law only guarantees 15% returned to the county of collection. You probably bought into the 400 toll going away also.

I am a native. The Northside has always enjoyed “better” in almost all aspects. A law to continue that is a non-starter for any Southsider with even only a few grey cells.

ByteMe

September 27th, 2011
9:00 am

Johnny, you may be a native, but you’re also paranoid and refuse to accept the data when presented to you by anyone other than a source you “trust”. I knew you wouldn’t accept you were wrong. Thank you for confirming my impression.

ByteMe

September 27th, 2011
9:01 am

And now I must run along, kiddies… gotta go do my part to increase the GDP. Don’t play with sharp objects!

Atticus Finch

September 27th, 2011
9:07 am

Republicans ignore scientific evidence like global warming, evolution, and commute times?

GT

September 27th, 2011
9:16 am

The traffic is a little like all else in this country with Democrats and Republicans. The working class or middle class have to get out in it while the Republicans are casual observers. They are like the graduating seniors with no resume in the back of the annuals. Involvement to them is chasing the neighborhood kids off their lawn and turning the front porch lights off on Halloween. When it comes to fighting something they are front and center, except for traffic. You can’t stay in a fight mode all your life, you have to join in sometime to something that is not hating or fear. Get out into the world you may find out it is not all that bad.

JohnnyReb

September 27th, 2011
9:18 am

ByteMe – when a law states 15% and people believe politicians that 85% will be returned, we know who is naive. No, T-SPLOST is a wealth transfer program from the Southside to the Northside.

Junior Samples

September 27th, 2011
9:19 am

Inconvenienced is a relative term, and tossing that into statistics is fuzzy. A better question would be “How much time to you spend on your daily commute”.

I think we can all agree that the statistic law makers, lobbyists, recuiters etc… use to court businesses and prospective employees to Georgia is not “traffic is convenient”, or “you won’t be inconvenienced by traffic”.

Data must be measurable. Can we agree on that?

Junior Samples

September 27th, 2011
9:20 am

recruiters…

JohnnyReb

September 27th, 2011
9:23 am

One more comment, then off to work. Today’s AJC has a an article on MARTA having a $2 billion shortfall. The suggested bandaid is to permanently let MARTA spend every cent of the tax instead of allocating 1/2 to future needs. If that does not remind you of the current state of the US economy/federal government, what will? No, instead of T-SPLOST, the state, Atlanta,and region to ensure what is here already can sustain itself (which it can’t). And, someone with gonads needs to step up and kill the MLK trolley project and send that money to MARTA.