We’vearguedbefore that one of the surprising reasons why Puget Sound’s roads-and-transit package failed was that voters were concerned about climate emissions. Today, there’s new polling data that buttresses our claim.
The poll finds that 20 percent of “no”-voters cited global warming as a reason for opposing the measure. This is an astonishing figure—one I believe that’s totally unprecedented, anywhere. (Someone please correct me if I’m wrong!)
Below, I’ve cherry-picked a few interesting newspaper tidbits for your reading pleasure:
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70 percent of Snohomish County voters who were polled said they would pay up to $10 billion to extend light rail as far north as Lynnwood and as far south as Tacoma. That was even higher than the region, where 65 percent of voters polled in support of spending money on light rail. (Everett Herald)
72 percent of those surveyed said they preferred separate measures. (Seattle Times)
[Region-wide] if transit were offered alone, there would be 53 percent support; if roads were on the ballot alone, there would be 50 percent support, the new Sound Transit poll found. (Seattle Times) [Ed note: Proposition 1 failed by 56 to 44.]
Only 23 percent thought sales taxes—the agency’s largest source of money—are a good way to pay for transportation. Car-tab fees, tolls and gas taxes were more acceptable. (Seattle Times)
In fairness, it’s hard to know to what extent people’s apparent preference for transit reflects environmental concern or other factors. Probably, voters had mixed motives and a variety of concerns. But at the very least, it seems reasonable to conclude that voters are less interested in roads-expansion than they are in a transportation system that is potentially more climate-benign. Coupled with the fact that fully 20 percent of the electorate that voted “no” cited global warming, I’d say we’re witnessing a pretty fundamental attitude shift.
Apparently, there’s some talk in high places about a transit-only measure on the ballot in 2008.
The poll was conducted by Moore Information of Portland and EMC Research of Seattle.
Update 11:20:I rewrote some of this post to broaden it beyond the Snohomish County focus it orginally had.
I’m glad to see auto-related fees/taxes are more acceptible than general sales tax. I’ve always liked use-related revenue used to fund the actual areas they are collected. Using a significant portion of sales tax to pay for transportation projects doesn’t seem very fair to me since many goods/services are unrelated to transportation, or only in a tangential way.This is good news, and gives me optimism that public transportation will improve in the future. It looks like most people are finally beginning to understand that building more road as an approach to relieve congestion doesn’t work – eventually, it just leads to more congestion.
I notice that the error margin in this relatively small survey is +/- 3.1 percent (embedded at the end of the document,, hmmm ). Most of the results presented do not escape this envelope of uncertainty. The pollsters who conducted the Sierra Club’s exit polling said the role of environmental issues, like global warming, on this ballot measure was unlike any they had seen before on a transportation ballot measure. I think this indicates the beginings of a new political reality.
I find it interesting that including the Viaduct replacement vote last spring, and the RTID measure, Seattle voters have rejected transportation plans that haven’t made sense. I wonder what may cause this reaction from commuters who are spending more and more time in their cars getting in and out of the city. It will be interesting to see if politicians offer us choices to spend money on smaller, more specific “fixes” rather than huge, bundled transportation packages.