Poll: Austin Divided on Mobility Bond

Oct 10, 2016

From the Austin Monitor: According to an Austin Monitor poll, the fate of the mobility bond is anyone’s guess.

The poll was sponsored by Perry Lorenz and conducted by Public Policy Polling. On Oct. 5 and 6, Public Policy Polling surveyed 585 Austin voters by phone about November’s $720 million transportation bond.

Jim Williams of Public Policy Polling told the Monitor that, at this point, whether the bond will pass in November is “too close to call.”

The split between those who support and oppose the bond is almost a dead heat with 46 percent saying they would vote in favor and 45 percent saying they would vote against the transportation bond. Factoring in a 4.1 percent margin of error, it remains an open question how the bond will fare.

“It’s all going to depend on where that 9 percent goes,” he said. That 9 percent, of course, are those who are unsure of how they would vote if the election were held today.

Williams did point out that only 3 percent of Republicans polled were undecided, compared to 12 percent of Democrats. Although 59 percent of Democrats support the bond and 68 percent of Republicans oppose the bond, Williams said that if the patterns hold, factoring in independent voters still leaves everything up in the air.

“All signs point to a real toss-up,” said Williams. “That’s what I would say.”

Williams told the Monitor that what stood out most to him was how divided people are on the issue. He also was struck by how important one subject was to those polled.

“It looks like people’s main priority, by far, is roads,” said Williams. “That’s probably not super-surprising.”

In all, 60 percent of those polled identified roads as their spending priority. Meanwhile, 21 percent cited transit as their priority, 5 percent were focused on sidewalks and 4 percent identified bicycle infrastructure as their main concern. Ten percent of those polled weren’t sure, or held some other issue as their main transportation spending priority.

The mobility bond is, of course, focused on the city’s roads with its $482 million designated for “smart corridor” improvements along nine of Austin’s arterial roads, and its promises to study others in the future. The bond also pledges $101 million to “regional mobility” improvements to intersections, and $137 million of the package would be dedicated to “local mobility and active transportation.” This category, too, includes improvements to roads. It also includes sidewalk improvements, urban trails and bicycle infrastructure.

A poll released by Mayor Steve Adler on Friday found that most Austin voters support the Mobility Bond. That poll showed that 56.7 percent of voters support the bond, and it found a much higher proportion – 17.7 percent – of undecided voters.

Of course, the mobility bond election is not taking place in a vacuum. In addition to the other local elections on the ballot, this November will see a presidential election, as well.

Williams explained that presidential elections always mean higher voter turnout. That higher turnout, he said, generally is a good thing for “things that Democrats would support,” like bond elections.

“You’re going to want a higher turnout for something like this,” said Williams. “So that’s probably something to hope for if you want the thing to pass.”