Voters and non-voters behave differently. Voters are more likely to own and travel by car. Non-voters are more reliant on public transportation. You can look it up.
So, let’s say it again: By soliciting opinions on Honolulu’s rail project only among citizens who vote, Civil Beat’s pollsters ignored the population segment more reliant on public transit than the people they surveyed.
I’ve been out of journalism for decades, but some instincts never die. Are there no reporters in Honolulu who see the inherent flaw in ignoring the population segment that likely will determine whether rail is a success?
Ridership will be the ultimate test. Non-voting transit riders and non-voting car commuters have opinions, too. What do THEY think about stopping rail construction at Middle Street, which is now a consideration? What percentage of them will likely leave their cars at home and take the train?
Civil Beat doesn’t know, because it didn’t ask them. It never does, as seen in its opinion polls years ago. As retired UH political science professor Neal Milner told me in 2012, "the media cannot say the 'public' feels this way about rail" (see the link for context).
Until some entity does a scientific survey that cuts across the voter divide, we really don't know what "the public" thinks about rail -- especially the segment that likely will abandon cars and ride the train.