AJC pollster: 51% in T-SPLOST support is cause for worry

Over the weekend, a Mason-Dixon poll showing a thin wafer of majority support in metro Atlanta for next year’s transportation sales tax was released by the AJC and Channel 2 Action News.

Fifty-one percent of voters said they would support it, and 36 percent said they would oppose it.

In a conversation with Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon this morning, Tim Bryant of WGAU (1340AM) in Athens pointed out that a 15 point lead looks pretty good. Coker’s answer, in this clip Bryant sent over, might surprise you:

Said Coker:

”Typically in tax referendums, the undecided voters more often than not will break strongly against the tax increase. So I’m a little less optimistic that this will actually pass once the time [to] vote comes around….

“I’ve been polling referendums for 25 years, and usually a referendum gets its strongest support at the very start of the campaign, and over time – it’s always easier to flip people into the ‘no’ column. One of the reasons is that people don’t really know about this plan yet. We found that only 30 percent are really familiar with it, and what projects are probably going to be proposed….

“A lot of times once the details become more widely known, then support backs off. I’ve seen sales tax referendums that start out with 57, 58 percent support and at the end of the day they only get 45.

“So 51 is not a great number to be stake out this early.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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22 comments Add your comment


September 27th, 2011
1:50 pm

Ok here is what hasn’t been said and maybe I’m wrong but as I look at the cross tabs you have 2 real problems. First there are too many self identified democrats in the sample 259 Ds 179 Rs & 185 Is so this is the first issue. Especially since the majority of the Tsplost area is Heavy R. And Second across the board MARTA fails. Both all 3 self identifiers as well as black and white respondents have little to no respect for MARTA and the job they do. This should give the folks trying to put lipstick on this pig real pause.

Mr. KnowitAll

September 27th, 2011
1:54 pm

ANYBODY who looks into the details of TSPLOST will see it is NOT focused on easing traffic, but pacifying the political requirements necessary to collect $6B in taxes. The light rail to Cobb, the Beltline, the Emory MARTA spur are prime examples—front and center—that will not help traffic one iota, will cost BILLION$$, but soothes the politicos getting a piece of this windfall.


Just Nasty & Mean

September 27th, 2011
1:58 pm

Com’on Jim. You knew this poll was flawed and lopsided to favor TSPLOST from the get go–but you published it anyway.

This poll doesn’t pass the smell test, and you know it.

….Raise your standards, man.

Mike H.

September 27th, 2011
2:16 pm

A side-by-side, Pro/Con argument in today’s AJC spelled out the problem with part of the T-SPLOST for the “Beltline” (or “Waist/Wasteline”) earmark. Will anyone reading and commenting on this blog please try to convince us in the outer burbs (OTP) how in the hell is the Wasteline (contained almost entirely withing the city of Atlanta) going to help those of us in the outlying areas, e.g., North Gwinnett or Forsythe counties?


September 27th, 2011
2:28 pm

Jim, folks who do referendums for a living will all tell u the same thing: an issue needs to START with 65 percent support to stand a chance passing at the end.

The Ghost of Lester Maddox

September 27th, 2011
2:35 pm

So the AJC wants the tax increase to pass….have we learned anything new today about the AJC’s philosophy, class? I think not.

You can word any poll question (or ballot question) in a manner to induce a positive vote or a negative vote, as you please.

I guess the AJC editorial board will push the tax increase and the anti-death penalty story lines until the Obama admin gives them the go-ahead to start campaign Hope and Change 2012.

Same story, different verse.


September 27th, 2011
2:37 pm

No more forever “its just a penny” taxes! No more SPLOST and no more E-SPLOST and never start the forever T-SPLOST!


September 27th, 2011
2:56 pm

“So the AJC wants the tax increase to pass…”

Its so sad. The AJC is going out of their way to please their new Republican masters. Every single day the AJC comes up with a different angle on why the Republicans proposed tax increase should be approved by the voters.

Republicans plan the biggest tax increase in Georgia history and the AJC goes non-stop stirring up support.

Republicans + AJC = best friends forever


September 27th, 2011
3:07 pm

The first commenter, Archon, made an argument about there being too many Democrats sampled in this poll. Archon believes that a majority of the 10-county area voting on the metro Atlanta T-SPLOST is heavily Republican. That got me interested to look up recent election results in the 10-county area. I added up the votes for Democratic and Republican candidates in several races and compared those totals to each other to see how the partisan divide really played out.

2008 Presidential Primary: Rep Candidates = 379,256 (40%) Dem Candidates = 567,855 (60%)

2008 U.S. Senate Primary: Chambliss = 122,343 (38%) Dem Candidates = 198,593 (62%)

2008 General Election: McCain = 741,596 (42%) Obama = 1,010,943 (58%)

2010 Governor Primary: Rep Candidates = 258,748 (57%) Dem Candidates = 197,367 (43%)

2010 General Election: Deal = 512,862 (46%) Barnes = 601,323 (54%)

So Democratic vote totals actually outnumbered Republican vote totals in four out of five big elections. Since the date of the T-SPLOST vote could still be moved, I can see why those who want it to pass also want to hold the vote during the general election in November. The only time Republican vote totals topped Democratic ones was in the 2010 primary.


September 27th, 2011
3:09 pm

These faux-republicans remind me of the pigs in Orwell’s Animal Farm strutting around on their hind legs. The T-Splost is going to help politicians, their friends & family and developers not the average tax payer. The DOT just took a lane of I-85 that we all paid for and now charge us a toll to use it, but even the AJC agrees traffic will be worse. These projects are just like the Green Jobs that the left always tries to push all gravy and no meat. They look good and everyone feels like we’re doing something, but at the end of the day things are worse than before.

[...] Galloway snagged an audio clip of Brad Coker of Mason Dixon, explaining that 51% support among registered voters for the proposed [...]

[...] Hmm… AJC pollster: 51% in early T-SPLOST support is cause for worry | Political Insider [...]


September 27th, 2011
4:54 pm

There will be fewer contested democrat primary’s so fewer democrats to show up just for TSPLOST

Those motivated democrats will vote against the measure to force republicans to face the fact that Grover Norquist has painted them into a corner and they need to reconsider their refusal to adjust taxes to the basic needs of Georgia

Add the Tea Party democrats as more negative

Add the RINO’s who don’t like taxes

Add the independents that have no primary

Add the governor has cut the gas tax that this is to suppliment, not replace

This transportation tax will fail


September 27th, 2011
4:57 pm

that’s the second time they took the lane
the first is when they reduced the lane widths down to 11′, normally 12′, to add the HOV
They even squeezed the inside shoulder to an unsafe narrow width that no car can fit into

[...] Galloway snagged an audio clip of Brad Coker of Mason Dixon, explaining that 51% support among registered voters for the proposed [...]


September 27th, 2011
6:26 pm


My main point was that the poll was actually representative of the registered voters in the 10-county area.

I think your own ideas about the actual vote are flawed because it is still very likely that it will be moved to November. Even if it stays in July, this talking point about fewer contested Democratic primaries is bunk. The biggest source of Democratic votes in the state — DeKalb County — will have Democratic primaries for CEO and most likely two other commission seats. John Lewis is also going to be primaried for his congressional seat. Then you have all other local races. The Republican talking point about so many Republican voters coming out for the 9th district congressional seat will not matter at all to the 10-county metro Atlanta TSPLOST, as none of the 9th district is included in it.

[...] Galloway snagged an audio clip of Brad Coker of Mason Dixon, explaining that 51% support among registered voters for the proposed [...]

E. Ruffin

September 28th, 2011
7:28 am

No more taxes, not now, not ever! Government at all levels needs to get a grip.


September 28th, 2011
7:43 am

All polls are flawed!!! Not just this one. T-SPLOST all the way in 2012!!!


September 28th, 2011
8:43 am

The error in these discussions is that TSplost is Dem-Rep issue. It’s really more a NIMBY\Grow issue. Dwight Eisenhower is the President credited with the Interstate System. Transportation is a business issue. Business usually translates to Republican. Major corporation location decisions are based on “quality of life” for the bosses. Light rail, currently being implemented in Republican dominated Arizona, is a quality of life improvement for urban dwellers and workers. Improvements to public transit WILL help road traffic. Two ways it’ll help. One: people on public transit are not in cars. Two: where there is well planned public transit more of the area’s growth will occur near it meaning more people to buy stuff who won’t be clogging the freeways. This is a no brainer unless you are in the group that thinks government can provide what we want it to without revenue.


September 28th, 2011
8:53 am

It is becoming nauseating that every @#&!! idea has to be filtered through the spin machine. The opposition to TSplost is being orchestrated by those who want to profit from the lame brained notion that public roads can be owned by private interests. How will you NOTEs (no tax ever) like it when you have to pay a toll to go see grandma, because the road to get there is owned by large contributors to your legislator’s campaign coffers. And be sure, the legislators will have a speed pass to avoid the toll.


September 28th, 2011
2:43 pm

Jay I agree with you that it was smart not to move the TSPLOST if you are interested in it passing. There will be more D races in the primary, don’t forget the reapportionment match ups, next summer then R races.