What’s Worse Than Being Stuck In Your Car In Freezing Temperatures Overnight?

Paying an additional 1-cent sales tax to solve transportation issues. That locked-in attitude was found among metro Atlanta voters, who were surveyed yesterday  by the Hicks Evaluation Group/OnTarget Solutions. Voters were asked who they blamed (Everybody!) and if they’d pay an additional penny in sales tax for regional transportation solutions. (No!) From the release:

I was surprised that this calamity of this magnitude did not appear to lessen voter opposition to a penny sales tax for regional transportation solutions,” said pollster Fred Hicks. “More than half of the respondents said they were directly impacted. If an event this dramatic does not move voter attitudes, I cannot imagine what will.

Respondents were drawn from the same 10-County region that shot down the T-SPLOST vote in July of 2012. (full release below the fold)

Poll: Metro Atlanta Voters Blame Everyone, Still Reject Penny Tax

“Snowpocalypse” Fails to Shift Voter Opinion on Paying for Regional Plans

 (Atlanta)—Two days after the Atlanta Metro region was crippled by Winter Storm Leon, voters blamed elected officials and government organizations for the two day, multi-county traffic jam.  Although nearly 50 percent report not being impacted directly by the storm, voters were clear in who they consider to be responsible, yet remain staunchly opposed to paying a penny for regional transportation plans.

“I was surprised that this calamity of this magnitude did not appear to lessen voter opposition to a penny sales tax for regional transportation solutions,” said pollster Fred Hicks. “More than half of the respondents said they were directly impacted. If an event this dramatic does not move voter attitudes, I cannot imagine what will.”

When asked who they blamed for the incident, more than half of the respondents cited Governor Deal, Mayor Reed, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and the schools. The individual bearing the most blame, however, was Governor Deal.  Nearly 3 times the voters blame Deal than Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

Hicks said, “Voters recognize that there is a systemic problem, not an individual problem.  Contrary to one of the narratives floating nationally, metro voters do not overwhelmingly view this as failure of either individual. That’s great news for Governor Deal and Mayor Reed. The bad news is that a majority of voters are not yet willing to pay out of their pockets to fix it.”

The survey consisted of registered voters across the ten metro Atlanta counties that voted as the Atlanta region in the 2012 T-SPLOST referendum.  Among the key findings are:

Self-Identified Political Affiliation

  • 26.3% Non-Partisan/Independent
  • 21.5% Traditional Republican
  • 19.7% Liberal Democrat
  • 18.1% Conservative Democrat
  • 11.4% Tea Party
  • 2.9% Libertarian

Who to Blame

  • 50% blame everyone
  • 15% blame Governor Nathan Deal
  • 3.5% blame Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

Penny Sales Tax

  • 56.2% said no to paying a penny in sales tax, 25.6% Yes, 18.2% Undecided
  • Opposition is highest with self-identified Tea Party Republicans (74%)
  • Support is strongest amongst self-identified Liberal Democrats (42.3%)

Note: Figures are rounded to the tenths place, thus the totals may not equal 100% due to rounding.

The survey was conducted on Thursday January 30, 2014 using IVR/automated dial technology.  Registered voters were randomized and then dialed.   1,114 responses to the four question survey were received.  57.2% of respondents were women, 60% Caucasian, 30% African American, with the majority residing in the counties of Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett.  The margin of error is 2.94%

The survey and analysis was conducted by Fredrick Hicks, President of HEG. This survey was not commissioned by individual or organization.

A more detailed analysis of the polling results is attached and is also available for download at the HEG, LLC website, www.hegllc.org.  Please direct all inquiries and questions to Fredrick Hicks at: [email protected]


  1. Jackster says:

    So then does that mean the ruling class will acknowledge that their funding priorities for transportation and taxing policies to fund it need to be right sized?

  2. Rambler14 says:

    “The bad news is that a majority of voters are not yet willing to pay out of their pockets to fix it.”

    The good news is that if the legislature had any balls to rescue the state from its 49th out of 50 ranking in transportation investment, this wouldn’t be a poll to begin with.

    Giving GDOT the 4th penny would be a start in the right direction. No impact to taxpayers.

    • Scott65 says:

      …and that has as much chance of happening as baking a snowball at 400 degrees and thinking you’ll pull out ice cream. They’ve been borrowing from Peter to pay Paul for years to fill those budget gaps and pay for the lavish tax cuts they bestow on those “job creators” which has been a failure by all real accounts. It would take a monumental calamity to get them to un-divert that money. Shall I remind everyone how they took the mortgage settlement money that was supposed to be for mortgage relief and diverted that for “job creation”? You will never be able to count on legislators to do the right thing when they are bought and paid for

  3. Michael Silver says:

    A person loses all credibility when they suggest $0.01 would have prevented Tuesday.

    Paying extra wouldn’t have solved the semis sprawled across 6 lanes of I-75, or every parent hitting the streets at the same time, or the ice, or the panic.

    There is lots of things to change to minimize the chance this will happen again BUT $0.01 isn’t on the list.

    • Scott65 says:

      If it had been done 10 yrs ago I would say a hellava lot less cars would have been forced to be on the roads

  4. Raleigh says:

    “Giving GDOT the 4th penny would be a start in the right direction. No impact to taxpayers.”

    Add a penny tax to everything everyone buys and then claim there will be no impact to taxpayers. I have got to hear the explanation for that logic.

      • Raleigh says:

        If it’s already paid then you don’t need to add an additional penny. What you want to do is change Georgia law about how funding is handled and you are preaching to the choir on that one. 911 fee, tire disposal fee, etc., etc, etc…….. not to mention all that useful funding for go fish museums and 2.5 million dollar resort spa’s.

        • Rambler14 says:

          Giving GDOT the 4th penny is redistributing state motor fuel tax $ from other agencies back to GDOT as it should be.

          It does not add a single cent to the amount of tax anyone in this state pays.

        • Scott65 says:

          …and we saw how that tire disposal fee was spent…general fund diversion, again…seeing a pattern???

    • DavidTC says:

      “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.” – H. L. Mencken

  5. notsplost says:

    Well it seems that the general public isn’t so easily bamboozled by the asphalt lobby.

    Jacking up everyone’s taxes isn’t the answer. Unless you are one of the cronies that stands to benefit.

    One of the many problems with the TSPLOST was that it was too heavy on roads and too light on mass transit. I don’t see how it would have made any difference on “snowpocalypse”; in fact it might have made it even worse if it had encouraged more road building and more traffic.

    • Jackster says:

      notsplost – you do realize you need money to build roads and infrastructure right?

      I mean I know in the future we’ll depend on Star Fleet for these projects. They don’t use money because they have flying cars.

      or are you advocating that we just need flying cars?

      • notsplost says:

        We don’t need more roads. Go back and re-read my comment.

        Expanding Marta should be the emphasis, along with encouraging telecommutes and staggered work hours. Neither of those require a penny sales tax increase on the entire population of the metro area.

        I do like some of the ideas of the BEST group, including the fourth penny reallocated to transit and fractional SPLOSTS, if they’re done right and not used as piggy banks for cronies of public servants. But as I posted the other day, I think it is going to require more draconian steps including changing the whole “happy motoring” mindset that is pervasive here.

    • DavidTC says:

      Nearly 3 times the voters blame Deal than Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

      That’s not really the news. The news is the amount of people who blame Reed at all.

      Really? What, exactly was he supposed to that he didn’t?

      I guess he *could* have notified businesses in Altanta that they should close…of course, we’re now pretending that all local businesses are located ‘in’ Atlanta, which is manifestly not true. People work in the rest of Fulton and Dekalb, Sandy Springs, Roswell, Smyrna, and Larenceville, and I suspect *none* of those people could get home if home required a 20 minute drive north. And the same in all cardinal directions. Even if the ‘City of Atlanta’ had closed most businesses for the day, that would have reduced traffic by maybe 1/5th.

      Of course, he could have just started calling *everyone*, inside and outside the city limits. But, then again, so could have *I*, or any random person.

      Although, hilariously, some people have pointed out that sorta, it is his fault…specifically, he actually *cleared* his roads…which resulted in more people trying to leave Atlanta. If he hadn’t done that, if the surface streets inside (and outside) the city limits of Atlanta hadn’t been cleared, people would have been stuck at their offices instead of stuck on the highways. We’d have been better off if everyone had been *equally* incompetent, instead of local communities *competently* allowing everyone to leap onto defunct highways.

      (Sorry, that was supposed to go top-level, I don’t know how it ended up here.)

  6. Jon Lester says:

    Would it really be so hard to legislate specific allocation for various revenues, rather than sending everything into the general fund? Fuel taxes should pay for transportation and sin taxes should pay for Medicaid, to name two examples.

  7. Will Durant says:

    To even imply that passage of TSPLOST would have made any difference in this instance is completely disingenuous.

    • saltycracker says:

      Guess you didn’t leave your car and ride MARTA home, walked a few miles from the train or slept in a warm bus.

      • notsplost says:

        That argument would work if the TSPLOST list of projects included expanding MARTA into Cobb and other counties, however to my knowledge it did not.

        • Rambler14 says:

          Inside the final list of projects:

          $37M for extending the North Line towards Holcomb Bridge Road (design and land purchase)
          $689M towards “enhanced premium transit service” in the 75/575 corridor in Cobb
          $225M for freeway BRT along the I-20 East corridor

          • Will Durant says:

            And I’m sure those projects would have already been complete and in place as of this past Tuesday had TSPLOST passed.

          • notsplost says:

            I’ll grant you the first one, but the other two involve buses that don’t do any better than cars in snow storms. Even with dedicated lanes buses don’t have any better chance at getting up icy hills than cars do. They might reduce the total number of cars on the road, though.

            To move people through snowstorms with clogged roadways you really need fixed rail or subway trains.

            The BRT project is still alive in Cobb, at least on paper. It is geared more towards economic development and while it might have some marginal effect in improving traffic, it could also make things worse by preventing left hand turns out of businesses along Cobb Parkway.

  8. Charlie says:

    Just jumping in to say that I’m observing the comments in light of the initiative from PolicyBEST, and not getting involved at this point because this is frankly telling me more about where opinions currently are, and how much work I/we have ahead of us to get us where we need to be.

  9. bgsmallz says:

    In 1999, we had two major projects that were being studied and planned and even funded…Those projects would have been functional and near completion today…regional commuter rail and the Northern Arc. Both were considered vital to the future infrastructure of the region. Both are still heavy considerations in any regional planning vision today. Both would have gone a long way in removing semi traffic from our local roadways (which was a HUGE issue in blocking the roads) AND providing alternative modes of transportation for those leaving their work places (40,000 to 50,000 passengers per hour in max capacity would have sure helped).

    Neither have been built mainly because of the people who represent the large majority of folks that were stuck on our roads on Tuesday and Wednesday have blocked them.

    At some point, Gwinnett, Cobb, and North Fulton may not be the center of the political universe in this state…I’ve been led to believe that ‘trends’ show this. I’d say they have about 5 to 10 years to decide to buy into a regional mindset…otherwise, the train will leave the station without them, and I’m not sure anyone on board will care enough to stop and let them on.

      • bgsmallz says:

        So tell me again how attitudes like yours are any better than the ones expressed below by bsjy?

        You both seem willing to kill the goose that laid the golden egg as a sacrifice to your ideologues.

        The point isn’t that we want the train to leave the station without one group or the other…the point is to figure out how to get everyone on the train together. ITPers didn’t build this city by themselves…neither did OTPers…we tend to forget that.

  10. bsjy says:

    Because the BeltLine is always the jewel in transportation planning’s crown, the People will always vote no when consulted. Anybody not on the make or not living in one of the transitional bo-bo neighborhoods adjacent to the BeltLine can see that money spent on this inner circle of unneeded transportation will have no beneficial impact on the majority of the taxpayers funding the transportation plan. Transportation planning is revealed to be just another form of social engineering, and all of the top-down social engineering initiatives begun over the past 100 years have or are failing: Social Security and Medicare going bankrupt fast, minimum wage laws eliminating the bottom rung on the jobs ladder, student loans financially crushing degree-holders with sketchy majors (BA, Greviance Studies) or sketchy degrees (BA, Moneysuckle Institute). And the current disaster: Obamacare adding to the ranks of the unisured when it was pitched as a way to reduce them. We’ve had enough of our betters telling us what’s good for us.

    • Scott65 says:

      …you know, I’d believe your comment is bordering on satire if it wasn’t sadly your real opinion…and make no mistake, you have very few if any facts in there going for you…just your selfish me me me I’m a wingnut the UN is gonna take our guns and make us live in high rises and screw the rest of you attitude…its worked so well thus far, hasn’t it

    • Harry says:

      Bsjy, you are correct. Please keep up the good comments. We need more such common sense conservative opinion around here.

  11. Scott65 says:

    Of the 1114 participants 614 did NOT live in Fulton or Dekalb. Of the 430 that did, it would have been nice to know if they were N. Fulton, or N. Dekalb. My opinion…let them have traffic since thats obviously what they want. It aint gonna fix itself…certainly not for free. I guess 14 hrs in a car isnt long enough…maybe 30 hrs next time would drum it into those tiny little minds.
    We live in one of the most selfish cultures these days. A penny…stupid gets what stupid wants…suffer…its what you are paying for

  12. DeKalb Wonkette says:

    I don’t understand why anyone is surprised that this poll shows continuing unwillingness to adopt another penny sales tax for transportation.

    Frankly this is a bad time to even raise that issue. What would be better: ask people for their constructive suggestions for actions that could be taken at the state and local levels to prevent a repeat of ice jam. Good grief! What if this had been a terrorist attack on metro Atlanta? Perhaps the SnowedOut membership would be a place to start.

    I am reminded of something Zell Miller said he learned while accompanying his mother to collect local taxes at peoples’ homes. In those face-to-face encounters, the trust of the person handing over their hard earned tax money was essential to the relationship between the government and the governed.

    Especially while the memory of this ice jam debacle remains fresh, most metro-Atlantans simply won’t have that trust (regardless of whether their assessment of the trustworthiness of state and local officials is accurate or not).

    In fact, many of the posts I read on SnowedOut stated a conviction that a MIA government response and citizen self-help proved that we simply don’t need government at all. It is not my intention to support this view but merely to point out that it is now widespread.

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