Monday, June 6, 2011

57-to-40 Rail Split Isn’t Exactly ‘Razor-Thin’ Edge

Former Congressman Charles Djou is seemingly everywhere with a commentary critical of the City’s rail project, which he consistently opposed during nearly all his time on the City Council. The piece has appeared in the Star-Advertiser, at Hawaii Reporter, Hawaii Free Press and is quoted today by Volcanic Ash columnist (and rail critic) Dave Shapiro.

Mr. Djou accuses both the Hannemann and Carlisle administrations of allegedly ignoring the sizeable minority (as reflected in the passage of the 2008 “steel-on-steel” Charter amendment) and not convincing rail opponents to support the project.

As evidence that community outreach has been inadequate, he cites the recent Star-Advertiser rail opinion poll, which we noted revealed a fundamental lack of understanding by the newspaper and its pollster about rail’s goals (warning: our May 16 post contains red-lettered “shouting”). We’ve been around enough opinion surveys to know when the questions are unassailable, and the newspaper poll’s weren’t.

“This (the S-A’s results) spells trouble for the future of rail. As long as the city relies on a razor-thin majority favoring rail, it will subject success of the project to the whim of just 2 percent of the electorate changing its mind,” Mr. Djou writes.

More Like 17 Percent

Mr. Djou didn’t mention the City-sponsored poll by professional survey company QMark in his June 3 piece, probably because he likely submitted it before the QMark results were announced.

Had he known about the 57-40 basic split between those who expressed support for rail and those who opposed it, it’s doubtful the “razor-thin majority” phrase would have found its way into print.

As a staunch defender of the democratic process, Mr. Djou presumably would acknowledge that a 17-percent margin constitutes a near-landslide, if not an outright mandate to build Honolulu rail.

QMark polled 100 residents in each of the nine Council districts; pro-rail support ranged from 50 percent (a majority of those who expressed an opinion) in District 5 to 68 percent in District 8. District 4, which Mr. Djou represented on the Council, registered 55 percent support for the project.

Support Is Growing

The headline on Mr. Djou’s commentary at both Hawaii Reporter and the Star-Advertiser is City Should Work Harder to Build Consensus on Rail. With the QMark poll showing an even bigger pro-rail percentage than the 2008 Charter vote, it looks from here like the City has been doing its job. (The entire poll can be read at the City's rail website.)

When asked whether they understand the proposed rail system, 68 percent of the 900 who were polled said they feel either very well or somewhat informed. Only 30 percent responded that they are somewhat or very poorly informed.

Just how much of that minority constitutes the unyielding opposition that has fought rail for decades isn’t known. What is known is that Mr. Djou’s continued support of the democratic process would help move the rail project toward its successful completion.


Anonymous said...

What if the poll says, your car registrations cost will go up, your property tax will go up, your sales tax will go up, gas tax will go up, and your overall cost of living will go up to support the internal bleeding from the rail system? Would they still vote pro-rail?
Hmmmmm....? I wonder. Government workers and unions are all for rail.
State of Hawaii is government workers and union controlled. Why not just do a dedicated shuttle bus system for them? Definitely will improve traffic condition.

Doug Carlson said...

That's an unsupportable opinion, Anonymous, and as such, it wouldn't be used by any reputable survey company like QMark. That's the kind of poll you'd expect an anti-rail group to conduct -- planting negatives as given facts, then asking what respondents think about it. Try attacking the poll as actually conducted, and you'll be left with nothing to attack.

Henry Carsten said...

Anonymous is not considering older people with doctor appointments, lower-wage earners who just want to get to their jobs without spending a huge portion of their income on cars, people who can't drive for various reasons, and younger people who don't yet have their licenses.

Not everyone can afford the gas, maintenance, monthly payments and parking fees.