Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Perspective on Transit Polling

As I pointed out yesterday, a new survey from the Regional Transportation Alliance found 58% support for a quarter cent sales tax for transit projects in the Triangle.

If such a referendum ever actually gets on the ballot, I think support will be even greater than that.

In May 2007 a poll on the Mecklenburg transit sales tax repeal showed 57% of respondents in support of keeping the tax. Another poll in August showed 52% support. But when they actually had the vote in November a much larger swath of the population, 70%, voted to continue the tax.

Why is that? Transit funding is an unusual instance where the interests of the growth lobby and progressives are generally in line. That means there are a lot of resources, both monetary and grassroots, available to support referendums on transit funding. The opposition is generally less organized, less well funded, and less able to put together the sort of coalition they would need to defeat the funding. And when the pro-transit side is able to run a stronger campaign you see the sort of balloon support from preliminary polling to election day that you saw in Charlotte two years ago.

Barring some unforeseen circumstances, I expect you would see the same thing happen in the Triangle.

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