A new poll indicates the Metro referendum on Houston area ballots will probably pass, but as early voting began a large number of voters hadn’t made up their minds.
About 43 percent of surveyed voters said they planned to vote for the referendum, while 28 percent planned to vote against it. But more than one in four voters – 27 percent—were still unsure.
“Most voters don’t know what they’re voting on,” said Bob Stein, the Rice University political scientist and KHOU analyst who conducted the poll for KHOU 11 News and KUHF Houston Public Radio. “The ballot caption doesn’t tell them that.”
“I think when people really look at the language, they recognize, ‘Oh, this is great, this is very simple,’” said Gilbert Garcia, the chairman of the Metro board. “Number one, it continues road payments. Number two, it pays down short term debt. And number three, it has money to restore the bus system.”
But the plan has made some strange bedfellows. Longtime allies of Metro have suddenly become its adversaries. Strangest of all, Barry Klein—who has dedicated much of his life to fighting Metro—is speaking out in favor of the transit agency’s referendum.
Rail proponents believe this idea essentially dooms any plans for rail expansion in the foreseeable future.
“We won’t have any more rail if we vote ‘yes,’” said David Crossley, an outspoken opponent of the referendum plan. “And so, if you want rail, you have to vote ‘no.’”
Again, you can see the topline data and the poll questions with responses for more information. You can listen to my interview with Crossley here and with Chairman Garcia and Board Member Christof Spieler here if you haven’t made up your own mind yet. Stein thinks the referendum will probably pass, and that most of those confused undecided voters will probably skip it on the ballot, and I think he’s probably right. Transit advocates have done a pretty good job getting their message out considering their lack of resources, and a win for them is certainly not out of the question. The one thing I know for sure is that the politics of this issue are the strangest I’ve ever seen.