2012 Tuesday: Polls show clear decline for T-SPLOST support (Updated)

Opinion polls for the presidential race, even when broken down by state, are too far out from Election Day to tell us very much. But the T-SPLOST referendum, which is just two weeks away? That’s different — and a few new polls show us where the momentum lies.

First, a Rosetta Stone Communications poll for Channel 2 Action News released last Friday showed the $7.2 billion tax for transportation projects trails 33 percent to 56 percent. That’s minus-23 percentage points, with just 12 percent saying they’re undecided. Here’s the trend for that poll, with the undecided share of the vote remaining constant:

MAY: minus-3 points (42 for, 45 against, 13 undecided)

JUNE: minus-11 points (38-49-13)

JULY: minus-23 points (33-56-12)

Net Change: minus-20 points

Next, internal polling for Untie Atlanta, the pro-tax campaign. The day after Channel 2 reported its May results, Untie Atlanta released an internal poll showing the measure was winning by 15 percentage points. Today, the campaign’s Twitter account quoted Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed saying, “We have a poll that says 38-41.” The AJC is awaiting confirmation from the mayor as to whether this is another internal poll for Untie Atlanta or his own poll. UPDATED at 2:45 p.m.: The poll was done by the same firm, Hill Research Consultants. I can’t say if the same methodology was used, because we’ve gotten little in the way of explanatory information each time, but I infer that we are talking about more or less the same poll in July as in May. If it’s the former so, that means there’s been a significant increase in the undecided vote — and that the trajectory according to the pro-tax side is:

MAY: +15 points (51-36-13)

JULY: minus-3 points (38-41-21)

Net Change: minus-18 points

While those two polls show different starting and ending points for the tax’s popularity, I find it very interesting that the change over time is almost identical to that of Channel 2’s poll.

The only other poll that has tracked the tax’s popularity over time, at least as far as I’m aware, is Survey USA’s poll for 11 Alive News, which reported yesterday that the tax trails by 13 percentage points in metro Atlanta. The arc for that poll is:

FEBRUARY: minus-1 point (36-37-27)

JULY: minus-13 points (36-49-15)

Net Change: minus-12 points

Note that all of the movement in that poll has been from “undecided” to “no.”

To recap: All three of the most recent polls show a double-digit decline in support for the tax so far, and not one of them currently puts support for the tax at even 40 percent.

One important caveat here is that turnout for the referendum is expected to be very low — so anything could happen, depending on which side simply gets its voters to show up on July 31. That said, if the opinion polls are even close to accurate, the multimillion-dollar campaign to promote the tax is shaping up as the biggest bust since Roy Barnes’ 2002 re-election campaign.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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86 comments Add your comment

citizen

July 17th, 2012
2:43 pm

I have no problem at all in increasing sales taxes for revenue generating. What I have a problem with is that this tactic was conceived because the elected state legislators were too afraid to vote this in because they could lose in their next reelection bid. If you want to be a state senator or a state representative, then man up at take the responsibilty for the hard decisions.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

July 17th, 2012
2:45 pm

What, people don’t want more taxes?

politcal hack

July 17th, 2012
2:51 pm

Which every political consultant is running the pro T-splost campaign should be fired and never allowed to work again. Losing by double digits with a huge spending advantage like this reeks of an amateur.

stands for decibels

July 17th, 2012
2:51 pm

I’ve been saying awhile now I don’t see this measure passing.

I do think it represented the best deal we were going to get, to fund mass transit improvements, although I’m sympathetic to “citizen’s” complaint about how our elected officials really should man up and pass funding measures as a matter of course.

One important caveat here is that turnout for the referendum is expected to be very low — so anything could happen, depending on which side simply gets its voters to show up on July 31.

agreed. That’s really the only way this passes, if some massive apathy among voters happens to work in the TSPLOST supporters’ favor.

martin the calvinist

July 17th, 2012
2:53 pm

I report, don’t you read Jay Bookman’s blog, there are many people screaming for higher taxes, on high income earners and mostly not on themselves…..

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

July 17th, 2012
2:54 pm

No new taxes, especially for a list that includes projects that will have zero impact on “untying Atlanta”.

Malthusian way

July 17th, 2012
2:56 pm

“the multimillion-dollar campaign to promote the tax is shaping up as the biggest bust”

Kyle, nice to at least one AJC “journalist” looking for the “truth” and not politicking. Now can you tell me where the multimillion-dollar campaign funds are coming from? No one will address the sources…..follow the $$.

martin the calvinist

July 17th, 2012
2:56 pm

BTW, I’m leaning no on it, If it was better written with more detail and politicans spent the money how it was supposed to be spent in general, I’d have a different opinion. But politicans use tax dollars for their reelection and are horrible wasters of public money, the shouldn’t be given more revenue until they learn to spend it wisely and not advance personal political agendas…..

You never can tell

July 17th, 2012
2:56 pm

citizen

Exactly. Well said

Kyle Wingfield

July 17th, 2012
2:57 pm

stands @ 2:51: For a long time, I thought low turnout would favor the pro side, because they had all the the GOTV money. (I suspect they thought the same thing.) But now, I tend to think it favors the anti side because that’s where all the momentum and enthusiasm seem to be.

1961_Xer

July 17th, 2012
3:01 pm

People are taking a look at this and noticing two things:

1) that the project list will not free up traffic. Item example #1: the beltline. Item example #2: a new control tower at McCollum field. This TSplost should be about freeing up traffic. That is the ONLY way you can sell it . If it doesn’t “untie the knot”, as it is being sold, then it shouldn’t be on the list.

2) As I always said in this blog and others, and as a Hartwell County Commissioner also noted the other night on E Ericson’s show on WSB, rural counties are net donors to the large population areas of their TSPLOST district. He was stating how Hartwell will, essentially, be a donor county for Hall/Forsysth TSPLOST projects. Not only that, but Hall and Forsyth have enough voters to pass this all by themselves and force the other counties (Dawson, Hartwell, Lumpkin, White, Union, etc) to pay them TSPLOST money for 10 years. And does anyone think this won’t come up again at the end of 10 years? THIS IS A PLAN THAT TRANSFERS SALES TAXES FROM POORER RURAL COUNTIES TO RICHER URBAN COUNTIES.

The fact that one or two counties in each district can force all of the other counties to pay sales tax to them is a non-starter. Counties need the option to NOT participate before the vote is taken.

Vote NO for TSPLOST !!!!

July 17th, 2012
3:02 pm

NO NO NO for TSPLOST !!!!!!

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

July 17th, 2012
3:03 pm

The T-SPLAT vote will be another victory for the Tea Party.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

July 17th, 2012
3:05 pm

Well! Good political news for a change!

Don Abernethy

July 17th, 2012
3:11 pm

Sorry, I do not trust the politicians with the money. They never do what they promise. I am sure there is a lobbyist someplace who will benefit from road building just waiting to split the spoils with his puppets.

curious

July 17th, 2012
3:13 pm

If Gov Deal and his crooked friends are for it, then I’m in the NO column.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

July 17th, 2012
3:17 pm

martin the calvinist

July 17th, 2012
2:53 pm

I report, don’t you read Jay Bookman’s blog, there are many people screaming for higher taxes, on high income earners and mostly not on themselves…..

Martin- Not only that, they get paid to scream.

Atlanta Native

July 17th, 2012
3:24 pm

Isn’t Kyle the same guy that said we don’t have a congestion problem? People in Atlanta can do math. A 1% sales tax equals about $10 a month per household. That’s almost literally pennies when you compare it to the lost time and wasted gas we spend on Atlanta’s roads and stunted transit system. I’ll vote “yes” a dozen times if they let me.

Common Sense

July 17th, 2012
3:25 pm

So they want me to support and pay a tax for ten years where I cannot vote out those that are administering it, and I can do nothing about cost overruns and rail lines to no where?

I don’t think so.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

July 17th, 2012
3:29 pm

“I’ll vote “yes” a dozen times if they let me.”

I already have voted a dozen times. :) You’re obviously not from a blue state originally.

Aquagirl

July 17th, 2012
3:33 pm

This TSplost should be about freeing up traffic. That is the ONLY way you can sell it

That’s the only language a lot of folks understand. They want to know “are they gonna fix the intersection I spend 10 minutes at every day? Is the money going anywhere else besides where it will personally benefit ME?”

Incorrect answers to either of these questions triggers an automatic no vote.

Jefferson

July 17th, 2012
3:33 pm

Sitting in traffic is a waste, doing nothing about it is sorry.

Hillbilly D

July 17th, 2012
3:34 pm

1961_Xer @ 3:01, brings up a very big point with number 2. This is getting little or no play in the Atlanta T-SPLOST region (AJC/TV etc) but it’s a pretty damn big deal to those of us outside that Region. To expand on that point, if I may, in the region 1961_Xer mentions, not only will most of the money go to Hall County ($1.40+ for every $1 that Hall collects) most of that money will go to South Hall (think Oakwood a little and Flowery Branch, a whole lot). The Gainesville crowd is pushing hard for this, in that region.

To Kyle

I assume the polls you quote are for the Atlanta T-SPLOST region. If that’s correct, do you have any statewide figures or figures for other regions. There are several of us who post here who don’t have a dog in the Atlanta fight but we’ve got one elsewhere.

Johns Creek

July 17th, 2012
3:36 pm

My poll is that I have already voted No on TSPLOST. This tax will not untie the Atlanta traffic knot. It wastes money that needs to be put to better uses. There was no cost benefit analysis done on any of the projects. The projects were selected by politicians based on their opinions, not on the actual benefits that will be achieved for the cost. We need to spend money productively in this country. We cannot afford “bridges to nowhere”, which many of these projects are. They help too few people for too much money. Some people say it will put people to work, but the bottom line is that it is way too expensive for each job created.

Kyle Wingfield

July 17th, 2012
3:37 pm

Atlanta Native @ 3:24: No, what I wrote is that congestion makes up only a small portion of the average commuter’s daily travel time — about 10 minutes out of an hour. The rest of the time consists of the long distances most commuters here travel. Btw, those data come from the very same database the pro-tax campaign uses to calculate that figure you mentioned about “the lost time and wasted gas we spend” here.

And, in case you missed my Sunday column: For the average household, any reduction in the implied “congestion tax” won’t exceed the amount of actual tax paid for the T-SPLOST.

Kyle Wingfield

July 17th, 2012
3:40 pm

Aquagirl @ 3:33: And as I’ve argued before, that’s the only way anyone should approach this question. Not out of selfishness, but out of an inevitable knowledge deficit: I can’t possibly know how the projects would affect traffic in places I never visit, so I should vote based on what it would do in the places I do frequent — and trust that everyone else will do the same.

If it’s a good list, it ought to attract a majority of the vote. If it doesn’t, I don’t know how anyone could objectively describe the plan as effective.

Kyle Wingfield

July 17th, 2012
3:43 pm

Hillbilly D @ 3:34: Some of the regions are reported separately here. (Scroll to the right on the first question.)

@@

July 17th, 2012
3:47 pm

Saving six minutes in commute time obviously doesn’t drive T-Splost home for most voters.

Ray

July 17th, 2012
3:48 pm

Take the pork out, and try again. Streetcars and an air traffic control, what could they have possibly been thinking?!!!

Atlanta Native

July 17th, 2012
3:49 pm

Fact: If the clog at I-285 and I-20 is resolved (or the clog at I-75 and Windy Hill, or the clog at I-85 and I-285, or the clog on I-75 south in Henry County, all provided for in the referendum, it’s a big deal and well worth paying 1 cent on the dollar.
Fact: if I couldn’t get somewhere via transit before, but I can after one of the referendum transit projects are built, I don’t have to worry about road congestion on that route anymore
The alternative is to do what? Nothing? More tolls? This is a no-brainer “yes” to me.

md

July 17th, 2012
3:49 pm

Wonder if the guy heading to the voting station that just left the tanning salon and is smoking a cigarette while contemplating which higher rate credit card he’s going to use to pay for his new hc tax will really want to trust the gov’t on another new sales tax…………..

steve

July 17th, 2012
3:52 pm

VOTE NO FOR THIS TURKEY!! DOES 400 BRING BACK ANY MEMORIES? IF YOU THINK THAT THIS TAX WILL EVER GO AWAY, THEN I HAVE A BRIDGE TO SELL YOU…..

Hillbilly D

July 17th, 2012
3:53 pm

Thanks Kyle

Polls never have made much sense to me and this one is no different.

In the NE Region, If the T-SPLOST passes, 63% say that they believe traffic in their area would have little or no change. If the T-SPLOST doesn’t pass, 62%, say that would make little or no change in their area. In spite of that, the poll shows 40% for, 41% against and 19% uncertain.

I’ll never understand humans, if I live to be 100.

BW

July 17th, 2012
3:53 pm

Congratulations Kyle

Jefferson

July 17th, 2012
3:55 pm

A bigger bust would be the GOP takeover of GA, BTW.

md

July 17th, 2012
3:57 pm

“Fact: If the…..”

and “if” is the biggest word in that whole paragraph.

If a snail had legs, it wouldn’t leave a slimey trail every where it goes……

In my experience with 40+ years of Atl traffic, every time a fix was promised, it lasted about a fraction of the time it took to build the fix.

Let’s say the clogs are relieved and traffic is moving again at a decent pace…..one would say great right? That’s human nature……but so is getting back in the car because one is tired of having to wait for the dang bus, or missed that stupid train by a minute for the last time…..now that traffic is moving again, it’s time to drive again as it’s now more convenient…….

And that leads to…………

Michael H. Smith

July 17th, 2012
3:59 pm

No 52% for MARTA. Oh how sweet shall be its’ defeat, when this T-SPLOST goes T-SPLAT .

Ray

July 17th, 2012
4:01 pm

Atlanta Native,

That is how bad government works, they think you will swallow the whole pig, just to get that one bite you want. DON”T do it. Those projects you spoke of are worthy, and can be financed with a better bill.

Manny

July 17th, 2012
4:03 pm

The counties get next to no legislature funding for their roads today. The counties will just up your property taxes without the T-Splost. You will soon be taxed for infrastructure and pothole repair through some mechanism. You vote and you choose as it should be.

Aquagirl

July 17th, 2012
4:04 pm

I can’t possibly know how the projects would affect traffic in places I never visit, so I should vote based on what it would do in the places I do frequent — and trust that everyone else will do the same.

But people aren’t doing that, they’re freaking out over beltlines and control towers, or anything that’s not underneath their four wheels. That’s why question #2 is what will kill the T-SPLOST. Most people will get a couple of fixes in their area, and consider everything outside their world a waste of tax dollars. Two or three pluses and 40-50 minuses don’t equal a yes vote.

Which every political consultant is running the pro T-splost campaign should be fired and never allowed to work again. Losing by double digits with a huge spending advantage like this reeks of an amateur.

In addition to a huge spending advantage, it’s not like rocket science. Traffic here sucks, if you end up making a fix controversial you’re a complete idiot.

In defense of the consultants and advertising drones, they’ve got a crappy product to sell. The politicians handed them 20 pounds of B.S. in a 10 pound bag. It’s like handling the campaign for New Coke.

A reader

July 17th, 2012
4:07 pm

Probably the only reason I will vote on July 31 is because of TSPLOST. Most of the ballot is made up of uncontested judicial races. Regardless, I will be there to vote NO.

swing voter

July 17th, 2012
4:10 pm

This campaign is a bust. They are spending over $8 million on a campaign for 350,000 voters. That’s $22 per voter. The only other campaign to spend this type of money was Roy Barnes in 2002. He spent almost $20 million on 2 million voters. That was about $9.50 per voter.

Roy was on TV and every other media outlet for months before the election. The Metro campaign has just recently begun airing TV and radio ads. So the real question is where has all the money gone? Someone has a story to tell…

John Galt

July 17th, 2012
4:13 pm

It’s rather entertaining that the major reason some support this is because others will foot the bill for improvements in their community versus a property tax increase.

The “greater fool Theory” comes to mind.

This is not a free ride or a pile of found money. This is 1% of everything we purchase in the Metro area. When small businesses are already struggling to stay profitable, and when families are already struggling to make ends meet, we plan to squeeze them just a bit harder.

With many of the funds going to projects that have shown for decades they are unsustainable as they currently function.

We cannot afford this in 2012. We surely will not be able to afford this in 2013.

Vote No.

Bryasn Grant

July 17th, 2012
4:15 pm

This Tweet links to me own assessment of the T-SPlat. I live in Atlanta. This effort reeks of a transfer of money, not just from rural to urban counties, but from Urban Counties to Pavement Contractors who helped get Atlanta’s mayor and other urban officials elected. Try to find one project that COMMITS to actually executing anything related to tying the region together with Passenger Rail. Every reference, and there were only a few dealt with expensive yet minor expansions of MARTA that were already planned and mothballed balled 2.5 decades ago, and then only if there were extra money after the pavement projects are completed. I also LOVE the $700 million BUS expansion for Cobb and Cherokee form Arts Center in Atlanta. How do you possibly spend almost $1B on BUSSES? on a line that has been running for over 15 years?!?

Waste and more waste. Many new mansions will be built by the puppeteers of the Untie lobbyists trying to sham all of us out of our money.

“RT @bryangrant If you vote for #ATL Transportation Sales Tax, you’re being taken for a ride by the Metro Politico machine. http://ow.ly/bEKbd

Ray

July 17th, 2012
4:16 pm

Blame Cobb, the City of Atlanta, and “those guys” trying hide the start of the “Northern Arc”, if this hog goes down. The educated voters, who wouldn’t lead like lemmings by any advertising, are going to speak.

Ray

July 17th, 2012
4:16 pm

Blame Cobb, the City of Atlanta, and “those guys” trying hide the start of the “Northern Arc”, if this hog goes down. The educated voters, who wouldn’t be lead like lemmings by any advertising, are going to speak.

JDW

July 17th, 2012
4:24 pm

O’ dear does this mean the Georgia Republican dominated state government will actually have to do their job? Don’t hold your breath folks this is another step on the road of Atlanta’s return to economic stagnation.

On the “bright side” it solidifies our position as the 49th ranked state in transportation spending…and the jobs keep rolling, rolling, rolling right on out of here.

Jefferson

July 17th, 2012
4:35 pm

Don’t think if this does not pass, the next plan might not be worse…

Road Scholar

July 17th, 2012
4:42 pm

Political Hack: Are you against capitalism? From what you propose, all PACS should be made illegal and abolished also?

Road Scholar

July 17th, 2012
4:46 pm

Common Sense: Why don’t you apply to the Citizens oversight committee (in the bill) to ensure proper expenditure on the project list, the projects are delivered on time and on budget, etc.?