Is Greenlight Pinellas gaining support some four months before Election Day?
That's what the folks at Yes on Greenlight say. They're the political action committee formed to help pass the Pinellas transit tax, and an internal poll released today says the measure now garners 59 percent of county voters, vs. just 35 percent opposing it — an increase of 4 percent support since a previous poll taken in February. And that increase includes getting over 50 percent in North County, considered a vulnerable spot for the measure.
"The more we get out the fact that it is a property tax elimination, that's bringing a lot of folks in as well," said an unsurprised Ken Welch this afternoon. The Pinellas County Commissioner and PSTA board chair emphasized that the financing factor for the measure, which would eliminate the property tax component of Pinellas homeowners' tax bills in exchange for a one-cent sales tax, is moving voters to support the measure.
But Barb Haselden with No Tax for Tracks says it's too soon for the advocates to celebrate, noting that the pollsters got a split of 41 percent Democrats to 41 percent Republicans in the survey.
"That is not reflective of who showed up to vote in 2010. This is not a presidential election," she says, noting that in the last midterm of 2010, 44 percent of Republicans voted to only 37 percent Democrats in Pinellas.
"We saw some significant jump among Republicans and also for the first time in the campaign, we're over 50 percent in every part of the county, including St. Pete, North Pinellas and South Pinellas," said pollster Joel Searby, alluding to numbers that were not included in the polling results released to the media.
The poll also asked respondents to identity their sources of news, including questions about network and cable news television, radio, newspapers, social media and Internet sources. Seaby says that's critical information for Yes on Greenlight officials to unearth as they shape their campaign for the fall. "We're very interested to know how people are consuming their information as a whole, and that will help inform the campaign's decision-making in the coming months as we communicate with voters."
Searby also pointed out that 57 percent of voters approve of the job that PSTA is doing; that's notable, as the transit agency has recently been investigated by the Florida Dept. of Transportation's inspector general regarding whether PSTA ads mentioning Greenlight crossed the line from education to outright advocacy (the IG said they did not).
Searby says the momentum is now clearly with the pro-Greenlight advocates. "It's that magic 60 percent number that pollsters like to talk about on referenda like this, and we feel like we're very close to that number," he says.
The survey was conducted by SGS, a political strategy firm based in Gainesviile. It contacted 402 voters between June 10-12 with a margin of error of 4.9 percent.