Pinellas citizens owe a lot to Peter Schorsch and his “SaintPetersBlog” this week. He just exposed the sausage making that is the “push poll” used to support the 300% tax revenue hike for the Greenlight Pinellas rail boondoggle. One type of push poll sets up a final question with a preceding series of questions designed to provoke desired results. In other words, it uses propaganda to alter the results, creating a false sense of the true feelings of the electorate. Then, those who like the poll results continue to ride the results as further propaganda to support their cause. SaintPetersBlog is to be credited because just two weeks ago, they conducted a straightforward poll that began with a simple question on Greenlight and revealed that Greenlight Pinellas is in “grave danger”, in their words. By conducting this push poll just two short weeks later, Peter Schorsch has exposed the deceptive tactics that Greenlight team uses to produce skewed results. The tactics are not being used by SaintPetersBlog and Schorsch to help anyone. Rather this poll exposes the seedy under belly of the Greenlight propaganda campaign that even now is under investigation by the State government for abuse of $800,000 in tax dollars by PSTA.
The SaintPetersblog poll conducted on 4/9/14, showed that registered Pinellas voters were rejecting the Greenlight plan at a rate of over 3:2 (48%N:29%Y:23% undecided). The poll began with the question: “Do you plan to vote Yes to approve the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum and sales tax increase on the ballot in November”? The second and only other question was “Would you favor the referendum if the sales tax increase was smaller and the funding only went toward buses with no rail provision?” To that, the rail supporters jumped ship, switching to a “no” vote (demonstrating they REALLY want a train and a tax hike). The results were 52N:23Y:26U.
The 4/24 poll by SaintPetersblog had a very different approach and produced a very different result: a swing from overwhelming opposition to the Greenlight tax hike to tacit support – in only two weeks. The question about support of the Greenlight tax followed a series of mostly “mom and apple pie” questions designed to garner support for public transit. There was one revealing questions about taxes however that shows that Greenlight is likely to fail once voters learn of the massive tax hike, a conclusion supported by the January poll conducted here at the Sun Beam Times (see below). The final question is also misleading by asking if people support a “1 cent” tax hike, when this is really a 14% sales tax hike.
Do you think that Pinellas County needs better public transit options?
Yes: 68.1% No: 20.6% Unsure: 11.4%
Would you be willing to pay more in taxes to fund better public transit options in Pinellas County?
Yes: 41.6% No: 50.6% Unsure: 7.8%
Do you think that having a faster and more frequent public bus system in Pinellas County is a good idea?
Yes: 65.2% No: 26.0 Unsure: 8.8%
Do you think that having light rail from downtown St. Petersburg to the Gateway area and downtown Clearwater is a good idea?
Yes: 62.8% No: 29.0% Unsure: 8.2%
Do you support or oppose the proposed referendum to increase the sales tax by 1 cent to build a light rail system and expand bus service in Pinellas County?
Support: 53.4% Oppose: 40.0% Unsure: 6.6%
SaintPetersBlog has helped expose how rail supporters twist a survey to get the results they want. There is simply no way in politics, when there is very little advertising or voter outreach, to swing massive opposition to mild support in a two week period. The only explanation is that these results are skewed by the push poll tactics. Of course, don’t tell that to the mainstream Tampa Bay Media. No doubt the headlines based on this poll will read: “Support for Greenlight Pinellas Plan grows” or such similar pap. It will be very hard to find biased reporting like that done when Sun Beam Times conducted its poll showing that when voters are exposed to the extent of the massive tax hike, opposition is at the 61% level. That January 22 Sun Beam Times poll began with the question: “Do you support raising sales taxes to build a commuter train from St. Petersburg to Clearwater?” (Y39:N45:U16). That poll was conducted among 2698 voters while the 4/24 SaintPetersblog poll among 1697 voters. The 1/22 Sun Beam Times poll then asked questions about awareness of the extent of the tax hike (“highest in state”, “14% increase”) and whether respondents would ride a train from St. Pete to Clearwater (only 17% would). The opposition then grew significantly with the final results showing that 61% would oppose the Greenlight Pinellas referendum.
Thanks again Peter Schorch for exposing this “sneaky poll tricks” of the Greenlight Supporters.