I-976 would make our bridges more dangerous.
I-976 would make our bridges more dangerous than they already are. Lester Black

If voters approve Initiative 976 on Tuesday, funding for transit across the state will be gutted, from paying for road repairs in Spokane to Amtrak service in Vancouver to light rail in Seattle. It would be disastrous for our state—but it looks like few voters are grasping the gravity of the measure.

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A new public opinion poll—posted to Twitter by Seattle Times reporter Heidi Groover—found that the approve 976 side is winning by 11 percentage points statewide, with 48 percent of voters planning on approving the measure while 37 percent plan on not approving the measure.

The poll was conducted by FM3 research and included 604 telephone interviews, both landlines and cell phones, and was conducted on Oct. 10-13. The poll’s margin of error is +/- 4 percent.

This poll is bad news for anyone who cares about climate change (I-976 guts mass transit), tax fairness (I-976 is a tax cut for rich people with expensive cars), or just getting around (Eyman’s terrible idea will even cut funding for pothole repairs).

I-976 is clearly (did I mention this already?) a terrible idea, and I wouldn’t be happy if even 5 percent of voters wanted to approve it, BUT there is a glimmer of hope in this poll.

The polling data Groover posted to Twitter also included a separate poll conducted on July 13-17, three months prior to the October poll. In that earlier poll, a shocking 61 percent (!!!) said they were planning on voting for I-976, and only 28 percent said they were planning on voting against it. That is a 33-percent margin in favor of approval. So what changed between July and October?

For one, millions of dollars has been spent since July telling voters how bad an idea I-976 is.

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The Keep WA Rolling Super PAC, which is the official opposition to Eyman’s bad idea, has spent $4.8 million advertising against the initiative. That’s thanks to big donations from Microsoft ($650,000), Amazon ($400,000), and Vulcan ($200,000). The FM3 poll found that 56 percent of voters had heard about the initiative while 42 percent knew nothing about I-976. That sounds a bit depressing until you consider that more Washingtonians probably know the entire Seahawks’ season schedule than know we vote in odd-year elections.

And the more people know about I-976, the more people seem to hate it. When the FM3 pollsters gave a strong argument against I-976 (it will cut billions in funding for everything, including our bridges that are already falling apart, etc) support for I-976 dropped precipitously. Before hearing the argument, 48 percent of respondents supported the initiative. After the message, only 34 percent of voters supported it. That’s a 14-point change.

So the glimmer of hope is that you can improve the chances of defeating Eyman's bad idea by getting the word out. You need to call every single person you know who lives in Washington and compel them, urge them, beg them, to vote against I-976. Post it to Twitter and Instagram and Facebook. And you should especially call your friends who live outside of Seattle and urge them to do so. The FM3 poll found that respondents in Spokane were particularly prone to supporting I-976 (57 percent support to 24 percent support).

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