This survey was conducted by Ward Research between January 26 and February 5. It started one week after anti-rail Gang of Four member Ben Cayetano officially announced his candidacy for mayor.
The telephonic poll was going on during the former governor’s burst of anti-rail publicity. Aren’t there opinion research ethics that discourage that sort of thing? Apparently there aren’t; the American Association for Public Opinion Research's ethical guidelines say nothing about timing, which is this poll’s black hole of a blind spot.
What did the Star-Advertiser expect? It’s almost beyond belief that the newspaper in this city could overlook the timing issue and commission this survey when the results were so predictable. Mr. Cayetano’s entry into the mayoral race isn’t mentioned in the story until its final paragraph!
The pro-rail candidates in the mayoral race – Mayor Peter Carlisle and former Managing Director Kirk Caldwell – said comparatively little if anything during the survey period to offset Mr. Cayetano’s stream of anti-rail publicity. Their pro-rail campaigns have barely left the starting line, yet the newspaper felt it just had to do a survey during a period when virtually all media coverage on rail was negative. It's mind-boggling.
What the research company predictably did was uncover the proverbial “snapshot” of public opinion during the time Mr. Cayetano was enjoying an uncritical free pass in the media. With the fawning treatment given the former governor and his views, it’s no shock the poll’s snapshot found dramatically less support for the project among its sampled population, which obviously was influenced by the coverage.
Also, pro-rail candidates for mayor thoroughly defeated their anti-rail rivals in the 2008 and 2010 elections, and pro-rail City Charter amendments were adopted by the public in those elections, too.
All four took the stage at the largest Rotary club in Honolulu; gang leader Cliff Slater trotted out his thread-bare anti-rail argument that we’ve taken pains to discredit with numerous posts here at Yes2Rail. Our “aggregation” site has links to many of them beneath the Mr. Cliff Slater (and Friends) heading.
Now Mr. Cayetano has picked it up and is using it in his campaign even though it’s a dumbed-down argument that does no credit to anyone who suggests rail will be a failure if congestion continues to grow after rail is built. Of course it will grow; the population’s going to grow! What Gang members can't or refuse to understand is that rail will be the missing link in our transportation network that will allow commuters to bypass traffic altogether. Judging from today's newspaper story, their followers are similarly blind to this fact.
The usual anti-rail suspects will be applauding this 10-day survey as justification to kill Honolulu rail despite abundant evidence that the public has supported the project over a period of several years.
The rest of us now wait and wonder about which prominent person or media outlet will be the first to publicly denounce the deceit.