Thursday, August 30, 2007

Stupid, Qpid?- NOT!

Yesterday we commented about the Politicker post on congestion pricing polls, one that previewed the Q-Poll that comes out today. In the post Azi suggested that, when the folks are told about the "myriad benefits" that will flow like manna from heaven once the mayor's plan is implemented, they support the congestion tax. We called this a crock, and pointed out that the only poll that showed support for this scheme was the one done by the mayor's own pollsters-another example of how so-called experts are being mis-used by the pro-congestion tax side.

Well the poll is out, and the results not only reinforce what we said yesterday, they actually underscore the fact that the more people find out about this mishagos the less they like it. Today's Q-Poll finds that New Yorkers have become more skeptical:"Traffic congestion in New York City is a 'very serious' or 'somewhat serious' problem, 89% of city voters say, but voters oppose congestion pricing 57-36 percent...This compares to 52-41 percent opposition in a July 26 poll by the independent Quinnipiac University."

On the other hand, the Q-pollsters found that if the proceeds of congestion taxing were used to "prevent an increase in mass transit fares and bridge and tunnel tolls," something that the state comptroller says is not possible, than support for the tax almost reverses. Which makes sense, since the tax payers would then see the measure as a potential financial wash for them personally.

What's fascinating in the poll is the evidence that New Yorkers are so disenthralled by the congestion tax idea that they reject-by a 51-35 percent margin- the $354 million carrot that the Feds are dangling to the city if an agreement on a congestion tax is reached. The poll found that respondents saw the promised funds as "federal meddling in a municipal decision," As poll director Mickey Carrol says; "'Don't tread on me' ought to be the message on the city flag. A majority of New Yorkers think it's federal meddling when Washington promises transit aid with strings-only if the city approves congestion pricing..."

Another interesting set of results revolves around race. Black and Latino respondents reject the congestion tax by larger margins-63-29, and 61-34-than do white voters. Opposition to the tax is strongest in the Bronx (which has no representation on the commission), where the margin balloons to 74-21. Queens and Brooklyn opposition remains at 60% or better.

So what we have here is another elite scheme that is meet with heavy disdain by the less sophisticated folks who just seem unable to grasp just what's good for them. It is, however, a clear warning shot to all of those pols that are interested in a city wide office in 2009. Like Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, they should see the Q results as the handwriting on the wall. A congestion tax is a most unpopular idea, and is not likely to endear any office seeker to vital outer borough constituents.