MARTA service in Gwinnett County supported by majority of likely voters: Gwinnett Chamber poll

By David Pendered

Gwinnett County’s leadership should support the expansion of MARTA into the county, according a polling firm that determined a majority of likely voters would agree to pay a 1 percent sales tax to get MARTA service.

“With likely voters having a favorable image of MARTA and their dissatisfaction with public transportation in Gwinnett County, we recommend supporting the expansion,” is the first recommendation presented by Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research.

Gwinnett County Transit

A majority of likely voters in Gwinnett County support a 1 percent sales tax to fund the expansion of MARTA into a county that now operates an independent bus system, Gwinnett County Transit. Credit: nyctransitforums.com

The likelihood of voters approving a MARTA referendum is no slam dunk, according a close read of the cross-tabs in the poll results. Dissension is sharp along traditional political divides:

Support:

  • Democrats – 80 percent;
  • Voters who oppose the Tea Party – 75 percent;
  • Current transit riders, daily or weekly – 67 percent.

Oppose:

  • Tea Party supporters – 67 percent;
  • Republicans – 63 percent;
  • Romney supporters, 2012 – 63 percent.

The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce hired Washington-based Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research to conduct the poll in March. Sen. David Perdue used the firm to strategize his upset victory over Jack Kingston in the 2014 Republican run-off election, to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

Here are highlights of the survey, released Thursday:

  • A majority (50 percent) of likely voters have a favorable image of MARTA;
  • One in four (26 percent) likely voters are satisfied with public transportation in Gwinnett County whereas one in three (33 percent) likely voters are dissatisfied;
  • Gwinnett County map on MARTA support

    MARTA’s expansion into Gwinnett County is endorsed by a majority of likely voters in all commission districts. Credit: WPA Opinion Research

    Three in five (63 percent) likely voters support expanding MARTA into Gwinnett County; The strongest support for MARTA expansion is in the southern part of the county;

  • A majority (50 percent) of likely voters in Gwinnett County support a 1 percent sales tax to fund the expansion of MARTA into Gwinnett County.

The telephone survey of 502 likely voters was conducted with a live operator interview on March 18 and March 19. The margin of error is plus/minus 5.7 percent in 95 out of 100 cases, according to the survey results.

Gwinnett chamber President/CEO Daniel Kaufman said the poll results will provide a foundation for upcoming deliberations about promoting economic development and a transportation system to enable the growth.

Gwinnett County map on 1 percent transit tax

A potential 1 percent sales tax for MARTA has majority support in all commission districts except the one that stretches from north of Norcross to Sugar Hill, and located mostly west of I-85. Credit: WPA Opinion Research

“The issue of transportation has been a major topic of study and consideration throughout the region and the state this year,” Kaufman said in a statement. “Our goal was to take a snapshot of the view of the Gwinnett community on a specific issue related to the overall topic of transportation. The results will be imbedded as part of future community-wide discussions on a comprehensive approach to economic development and the transportation system we will need to support it.”

Chuck Warbinton, executive director of the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District, said the poll results tell him that county residents are ready to consider transit – on a broader scale than offered by the county-operated Gwinnett County Transit.

“Planning to be a community of tomorrow means we can no longer look at vehicular transport as the only viable transportation solution for suburban counties,” Warbington said in a statement. “As a community, it is important that we have an open and honest conversation on how we will attract 21st century jobs with a transportation network that was primarily planned and built in the 20th century. Based on the results of this poll, the community is ready for that discussion.”

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

7 replies
  1. Ted Vigodsky says:

    The changing demographics in Gwinnett are finally beginning to drive the dynamics in favor of reality there. Those very same demographics already grasp the positive results that are sure to accrue to Clayton County now that MARTA is serving residents there again. Unfortunately, Cobb County still hasn’t entered the world of reality yet. After the Braves stadium and constant gridlock take hold, our friends in Cobb may finally get the public transit message loud and clear.Report

    Reply
  2. Burroughston Broch says:

    One secret of successful polling – carefully choose your sample.
    A second secret – pose your questions to elicit the desired answer. Notice they didn’t list the questions.Report

    Reply

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