The poll, conducted July 11, found only 33 percent of metro Atlantans support the referendum while 56 percent oppose the measure. Twelve percent remain undecided. [...]
A majority of black voters no longer support the measure for the first time. Pollster John Garst said opposition from state Sen. Vincent Fort and other community leaders has hurt the TSPLOST in more urban areas. Opposition has grown among Republicans since the last poll on June 29, while support among Democrats has almost dropped below 50 percent as well.
A spokeswoman for Citizens for Transportation Mobility, the business community's well-funded campaign to persuade voters to approve the tax, tells CL the team's beefing up its get-out-the-vote efforts:
All elections are about turnout and we have a strategic effort underway to broaden the July 31 primary turnout. Our polling shows that people in metro Atlanta are sick of having their lives revolve around traffic. They agree that we can longer continue to ignore our traffic problem and are ready to embrace transportation options and choices. We are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to get out the vote. The messages of less traffic, more jobs and a stronger economy are resonating with people.
We are targeting commuters, transit riders and targeted demographic groups that deal with our notorious bottlenecks on a daily basis. Just today, we launched new ads including one from Ambassador Andy Young. This referendum is an Olympic moment for metro Atlanta. We believe the voters of this region are ready to step up and vote yes.
Here's one of those new ads, a TV spot which started airing today. Campaign officials have dropped the animations of traffic knots and are now targeting that valuable people-with-killer-cars-who-miss-their-kids'-baseball-games demographic:
Two 30-second audio ads — including the aforementioned ad featuring former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young — started soaring through metro Atlanta airwaves today as well. Here's a link to one of the clips, a riff on a doctor telling a patient with clogged arteries to wait and fix the problem later. Here's the ad featuring Young:
The AJC last night hosted a panel discussion which included one of our favorite speakers on smart growth:
Chris Leinberger, a nationally known land-use strategist and Brookings Institution senior fellow from Washington, D.C., came out swinging, chiding metro Atlantans for not being bold enough to revive the region's national and economic standing by embracing the referendum.
He noted the region has fallen behind in the past decade and now ranks 189th of the world's 200 largest urban areas for economic development prospects. He urged passage of the referendum.
"This is an Olympic moment for you," said Leinberger. "Your ancestors knew the importance of transportation. You've forgotten it."
Your humble correspondent today visited not one but two T-SPLOST-related events. The first, the monthly Sustainable Atlanta Roundtable hosted by Southface, featured Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd, Atlanta Regional Commission Executive Director Doug Hooker, and MARTA General Manager and CEO Beverly Scott.
Lots of interesting and meaty topics were discussed during the panel discussion, which was moderated by longtime business columnist Maria Saporta. Among them: what happens to MARTA if the tax fails, the steps transit agencies must take if the tax passes, and whether the anti-transit rhetoric we're hearing from many T-SPLOST opponents jibes with most metro Atlantans' views.
Panelists also touched on the idea of metro Atlanta still being "two regions" — an inner core that wants more transit and a suburban doughnut that favors roads — and whether they can cooperate. Hooker likened it to his relationship with his siblings. Each are entirely different and might not always agree, he said, but they all recognize that they are a family and "in it together." The line, which one audience member urged Hooker to use more often, drew loud applause. (Check out my Twitter feed for a typo-filled rundown of the Southface roundtable.)
A few hours later, we hitchhiked to the Cobb Galleria Center to a Council for Quality Growth and Urban Land Institue of Atlanta "Countdown to July 31" luncheon. The keynote speaker was Congressman John Mica, R-Fla., who chairs the House Transportation Committee.
Mica's meandering speech touched on airport screeners and "the damn Russians" pursuing public-private partnerships but focused on the recent passage of a federal transportation bill. He said the bill, which President Barack Obama signed last week, cuts the red tape that prevented state and local governments from quickly tapping federal funding needed to build road and rail projects.
Mica stopped short of endorsing the sales tax measure — "that's the people's choice," he said — but did offer some words of warning in case the T-SPLOST fails. (Keep in mind that some projects slated to receive T-SPLOST funding anticipate using federal cash.)
[Federal funding] will go someplace else. We created a reliable federal partner. If you're not ready, it will go somewhere else where they're ready to do things. [...]
You don't want Atlanta and this region stuck in neutral. You don't want Atlanta and this region going in reverse.
Finally, T-SPLOST opponents have announced a two-hour "rolling protest" on Saturday around I-285, which sounds like an exciting way to waste fuel and time.
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