They claim that polls before the election showed the RTA propositions, which approved both a transportation plan and a half-cent sales tax to pay for it, were going down to defeat.
Attorney Bill Risner, who has led the charge against the RTA, admitted a few weeks ago that he had never seen the polls that he’s citing.
“I’m basing it on information from individuals that I find credible who have told me what they believe—and were told—those poll results were,” Risner says.
That got us wondering: Just what did those polls show?
So we called political consultant Pete Zimmerman, who ran the campaign promoting the RTA campaigns. Zimmerman was kind enough to share the results of tracking polls from the RTA election with us.
Guess what? They never showed the RTA propositions losing, although support dropped as Election Day approached.
The surveys, which were done by polling firm Marketing Intelligence, show that back in December 2005, 63 percent of the voters favored the proposition, while 23 percent were opposed and 13 percent were undecided. Zimmerman says that’s typical of past transportation sales-tax proposals in Pima County, which tend to start out strong and then lose support as opponents stab it with their steely knives.
Support for the proposition remained above 50 percent until the beginning of May 2006; about 25 percent of surveyed voters were opposed, while the other fourth were undecided.
The worst day for the sales-tax proposition came on May 6, when 42 percent supported it and 33 percent opposed it (with 25 percent undecided). But the gap began widening the next day and by May 13, 46 percent supported the proposition, 27 percent were opposed and 27 percent were undecided.
The numbers were so consistent by then that the pollsters predicted the sales tax would have the support of somewhere between 57.3 percent and 66.3 percent of the voters on Election Day.
The actual result on May 16, 2006: The proposition passed by 57.6 percent.