Posting has been a bit light this week as I recover from one of the nastiest flu bugs I've had in some time. (Note to my readers: don't read The Stand during flu season - if you do read it and get sick afterward, you will be freaked out.) I'm also waiting on some reports to come in from yesterday's CHSRA board meeting in Sacramento, where an apparently "lively" discussion on transit-oriented development took place.
In the meantime I thought I would share some details of the high speed rail polling data I discussed last week. At the time all we had was Quentin Kopp's statement of a statewide 58-32 split in favor of the bonds, which was confirmed to me over the weekend by Fiona Ma and her staff. This week the San Francisco Examiner has provided some crucial details of that poll:
A statewide survey of 800 registered voters shows that 67 percent of Bay Area residents plan to vote “yes” on a $9.9 billion high-speed rail bond in November, an approval rating higher than any other California region.
Statewide, 58 percent of voters approved of the bond measure, and 61 percent said “yes” in the Los Angeles and San Joaquin areas, the study said.
Those are stunning numbers. The massive support in the Bay Area and the significant majorities in LA and the San Joaquin Valley would more than make up for whatever opposition might exist elsewhere in the state. Typically, to win a statewide election of any kind, you need to run up big numbers in the Bay Area and LA and break even in the Central Valley and the other parts of Southern California. This poll suggests we are in a good position to accomplish that goal.
Of course, the other important piece of California political wisdom is that support for an initiative always drops the closer we get to Election Day, as negative attacks begin to take their toll on public support. It is therefore crucial that a ballot measure be polling well above 50% in the early stages, and that is exactly what this poll shows.
We still have seven long months to go, and these poll numbers will almost certainly change in that time. But the situation looks very good for the high speed rail plan. November 2008 will see an enormous turnout of voters likely to support something like high speed rail, overwhelming the anti-government spending, anti-transit voters that tend to dominate low-turnout elections. And even as the negative attacks begin in earnest after Labor Day, we appear to have a strong reserve of support that can carry us to victory on November 4.