Poll: Support for Greenlight Pinellas on the rise, information gap still exists

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Support for Greenlight Pinellas has grown over the past four months, according to an interal poll of likely voters taken in June.

Internal polling by the Greenlight Pinellas Campaign found a four-point jump in support, with 59% of voters now saying they approve of the proposed transit plan whereas 35% say they are against it. In a similar poll taken in February, 55% say they are in favor of the referendum, and 38% are against it.

With only five months left until the November elections, Greenlight promoters still face a large information gap.

Nearly six in ten voters have yet to form an opinion of the plan, as 39% of respondents say they have never heard of Greenlight Pinellas; 19% say they have heard of it, but had no opinion.

However, when respondents are shown the actual language of the proposal — “financing of public transit benefitting Pinellas County, including an expanded bus system with rapid bus transit, increased frequency and extended hours, local passenger rail and regional connections be funded by levying a one percent sales surtax” – support increases substantially.

In that case, those saying they will “definitely” vote for the plan is 41%. Another 14% say they will “probably” vote for it, and 3% are “leaning” towards support.

Once voters receive more information about Greenlight Pinellas — including the controversial one-cent sales tax for expanded bus service and light rail — support for the initiative increases to 62%, with only 34% against.

Among other good news in the poll, overall optimism for Pinellas County is on the rise.

More than half of respondents say the county is heading in the right direction, by a margin of 56-22%, with another 22% saying they are unsure.

Citizens are also pleased in general with the performance of Pinellas County Commissioners: 43% approve of the job the board is doing, while only 18% disapprove. Thirty-eight percent do not know or say they are unsure.

A good indication that Greenlight Pinellas is on the right track (so to speak) is that if approved, the plan will address a leading concern of constituents.

Transportation and jobs creation are two of the most important issues voters want the commission to tackle; 26% put job creation on top, 25% say dealing with traffic and transportation issues, followed by improving education (21%), lowering crime (14%), and managing growth and development (8%).

As for the upcoming governor’s race, most Pinellas County voters hold an unfavorable opinion of Gov. Rick Scott, disapproving of his job performance by a margin of 56-35%.

Doing somewhat better in the eyes of voters is former governor Charlie Crist, Scott’s likely Democratic opponent. Crist, whose home base is in St. Petersburg, gets 43% approval, while 42% disapprove.

The poll was conducted June 10-12 by data mining firm SGS, using a random sample of 402 likely voters and has a +/- 4.9% margin of error.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.