Against California High Speed Rail by Mark R. Powell

Californians Turn 2 to 1 Against High Speed Rail

Only Californians Aligned with the “Occupy Movement” Remain Strongly Supportive.
A Field Poll [Note 1] conducted by telephone between November 15-27, 2011 involving 1000 randomly selected registered California voters posed the following question:

“Suppose that 9 billion dollars in state bonds for the California High Speed Rail project were put before voters again in a statewide election ballot. If the election were being held today, would you vote Yes to approve or No to reject this bond package?”

In a stunning rebuke of the California High-Speed Rail Project and its most ardent defenders, the California High-Speed Rail Authority and Governor Brown, the poll results show that Californians now oppose this project by a margin of 2 to 1.  Moreover, the results show this sentiment is held by nearly every segment of Californians.

Segment                               Yes                      No                  Undecided
Statewide                               31                      59                       10
San Diego/Orange County       20                      72                        8
Central Valley                         30                      60                       10
San Francisco Bay Area           40                      49                       11

Democrats                              40                      49                       11
Republicans                             21                     74                        5

Member of a Union                  38                     55                        7  
Not a Member of a Union         28                     61                       11

Male                                       36                     58                        6
Female                                   26                     60                       14

Age 18-29                               39                     55                        6
Age 30-39                               31                     59                       10
Age 40-49                               25                     63                       12 
Age 50-64                               32                     60                        8
Age 65+                                 28                     59                        13

The list goes on to include Californians of every education group, income bracket, marital status, and  religious preference.

Two segments of Californians remain narrow supporters of high-speed rail.

Segment                                              Yes                   No                Undecided
Holding Liberal Political Ideology          44.8                41.0                  14.2
Strong Supporters of Barack Obama     44.2                41.9                  13.8

One segment of Californians remain strong supporters of high-speed rail.

Segment                                                         Yes              No                Undecided
Strongly Identify with “Occupy Movement”     47.6            37.8                   14.7

The mood of Californians has shifted so much since November 2008 that now only 52.8% of those who remember voting for Proposition 1A, the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act, would vote for it again while 95.5% of those who remember voting against the bond act would vote against it again.

It is not capriciousness on the part of Californians that caused this sea change in their attitudes about the high-speed rail project.  It is the fact that they were deceived in November 2008 and now the truth about this project is coming out.  Look back to the stunningly prejudicial ballot wording:

Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act
To provide Californians a safe, convenient, affordable, and reliable alternative to driving and high gas prices; to provide good-paying jobs and improve California’s economy while reducing air pollution, global warming greenhouse gases, and our dependence on foreign oil, shall $9.95 billion in bonds be issued to establish a clean, efficient high-speed train service linking Southern California, the Sacramento/San Joaquin Valley, and the San Francisco Bay Area, with at least 90 percent of bond funds spent for specific projects, with federal and private matching funds required, all bond funds subject to an independent audit?

Add to this unrealistically low cost estimates shamelessly express in non-inflated 2008 dollars combined with certain profitability of high-speed trains and it is no wonder that Californians were narrowly fooled into voting for Proposition 1A [Note 2]. 

More good news contained in the recent Field Poll is that by more than a 2 to 1 margin Californians support resubmitting the rail bond package to the voters for another public vote next year.  All segments of Californians, including those persons “strongly identifying with the Occupy  Movement”,  favor a second vote on the high-speed rail bonds.  With even their friends in the Occupy Movement supporting a second vote, how could Governor Brown and Democrats in the legislature object?

Statements of fact made in this article are supported by footnotes and links shown below.

Note 1  Field Poll conducted November 15-27, 2011

Note 2 November 2008 Official Voter Information

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