HRG poll data on Metro and the GMP

I mentioned on Friday that there had been a poll commissioned to measure voter attitudes towards Metro and the General Mobility Program. That poll was commissioned by Houstonians for Responsible Growth, and Joshua Sanders was kind enough to send me the polling data later in the day, which you can see here. On the key questions, a sizable majority says they would vote to keep the GMP, with a small plurality saying they would vote to put a cap on it. However, after being given what is known as “directed” information about Metro, a majority would vote against the cap, and attitudes towards Metro become sharply negative. The point to understand is that a negative campaign against Metro, which for all the good it has done in the George Greanias/Gilbert Garcia era is still not very far removed from the bad old days, would be successful and would likely do a lot of damage to them. You can relish or decry the thought of such a campaign, but none of this should be a surprise. People may like the idea of transit and walking to work and all that good stuff, but that doesn’t mean they’ll vote that way.

You may say “But Metro and transit supports can fight back with their own campaign!” That’s true, they can, and if someone wants to show me a poll with some differently “directed” messages in it, we can see what the potential for such a campaign may be. But where would funding for such a campaign come from, and how would it counter the villianization of Metro itself in a pro-GMP campaign? Those who want to keep the GMP as is have an easy target. They can make Metro the bad guy in all this, and it would be effective. What’s the strategy to counter that? Sure, there are plenty of bad guys on the anti-transit side, starting with Steve Radack and John Culberson, but the connection between them and the virtues of spending transit money on road repair is a lot more tenuous and harder to explain than “Metro hasn’t kept its promises and doesn’t deserve more money”. If you can’t see the train wreck coming (pun intended), I think you’re fooling yourself. Read through the slides, look at all the ammunition available to the other side, and tell me you don’t see it.

If it were up to me, I’d be happy to phase out or at least cap the GMP payments. But I have no desire to engage in a fight that looks like a sure loser from the get go, and I suspect that Metro will be thinking along similar lines. That’s why I like Christof Spieler’s proposal and think that it could be the basis for a compromise people can live with, or at least won’t be motivated to spend a bunch of money to defeat. It doesn’t move things forward as much as I’d like, but I’d much rather take smaller steps forward than risk taking big steps backwards. Your mileage may vary, and if you’d rather go all in on capping or killing the GMP, I certainly sympathize. I just don’t see what the path to victory for you is. Sometimes kicking the can down the road is the wisest course to take.

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4 Responses to HRG poll data on Metro and the GMP

  1. Temple Houston says:

    I was one of the people polled on the GMP question. I’ve been polled before and this was probably the most poorly presented and confusing set of questions I have ever encountered. I don’t know how the guy scored my answers, but after reading the questions as reported in the link, I am wondering whether any of the results shown are actually valid reports of the responses received. In addition, I do wish they had included the “name id” responses for all of the other people they asked about, e.g., John Culberson, Bill King.

  2. Temple Houston,

    The poll you are speaking of that you participated in was not the poll of Houstonians for Responsible Growth. We did not include any questions regarding John Culberson or Bill King. For the questions that were included in the HRG poll, please see the attached links in Kuff’s blog post.

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