Today is Election Day in Georgia. There are several elections on the ballot, from Congress to local judgeships, but the race most political observers are following is the metro Atlanta T-SPLOST referendum. With eleven other regional T-SPLOST referenda on the ballot throughout Georgia, Atlanta’s is billed as this generation’s “Olympic moment”.
The stakes are high. The Atlanta T-SPLOST campaign has spent close to $9 million trying to persuade metropolitan Atlanta voters to make an unprecedented $7 billion investment in transportation, but based on recent polling, there may not be enough support to pass the referendum.
Almost a year ago, Blogging While Blue wrote that the chances of success for this referendum were slim. We wrote that the campaign needed to concentrate on targeting 2008 Obama voters if it wanted to successfully pass the tax. Instead it appears the campaign focused on 2008 McCain voters.
The campaign consultants were primarily Republicans. Yes, there were some Democrats too, but the campaign brain thrust was led by key strategists of the state Republican political machine. And it showed. The project list left out key constituencies of Obama voters in South DeKalb, South Fulton, and Clayton Counties and did not address the operational funding needs of MARTA.
Despite a late flurry of activity generated by Mayor Kasim Reed, Ambassador Andrew Young, Congressmen John Lewis and Hank Johnson, the campaign never seemed to find the right messaging to persuade enough Obama voters to support the referendum. And even so, the overwhelming lack of support among Republicans and Independents may now be an insurmountable task for the campaign.
Regardless of your decision to vote for or against the T-SPLOST, be sure to vote today.
However, if the referendum fails as many predict, there will likely be a lot of name calling and finger pointing. Hopefully the blaming will be short lived and tempered. Atlanta still needs transportation investment. The leaders of the day will have to accept the peoples’ final decision and move forward with Plan B.