Transit Questions On Cobb Democratic Primary Show Support for MARTA

In the recent primary elections on June 9th, 2020, you might have seen a couple of questions that were related to transit and transportation if you requested a Democratic Primary ballot.

Question 7 asked “Do you support a county wide one cent Transportation Special Sales Tax?”

Question 8 asked “Do you support MARTA expansion into Cobb County?”

Our Research & Planning team took the data and did some great analysis which you can find below.

Here is a link to the results by precinct: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1yOe6RvTKta1K8udpqRSAHRQfM75y93Fe3QUkmv_xvwE/edit?usp=sharing

Do you support a county wide one cent Transportation Sales Tax?

Overall 64% of respondents said they supported a one cent transportation sales tax.

The one caveat to this question is that it is not solely transit, as “transportation” would include both transit and roads.

Looking at the map, East Cobb shows some of the strongest support while South Cobb surprisingly shows some of the weakest support.

Percent Support for one cent transportation tax (size of bubble is number of votes in that precinct)

Do you support MARTA expansion into Cobb County?

83% of respondents said that they support MARTA expansion into Cobb County.

As one would expect, the strongest support for MARTA expansion is in South Cobb and up the 75/Cobb Parkway Corridor.

East Cobb and West Cobb show the weakest support for MARTA with Democratic Primary voters, but even in the worst precincts, support for MARTA is in the low-mid 70% range among Democratic voters.

What does support for MARTA expansion look like if we include all voters?

Great question. Although we feel transit is a bipartisan issue, there is no doubt that support is different between Republican and Democratic voters. The MARTA question was only on the Democratic primary ballot, so we feel the best approach is to take the support for MARTA from Democratic voters and combine this with voters who voted for Stacey Abrams in the 2018 Gubernatorial election. This would give us a “baseline estimate” for supporters for MARTA in a general election.

Doing this exercise, we find that the baseline estimate of MARTA support from Democratic voters is 45%. This means that without counting any Republican voters, we are around 5% of the threshold needed to support MARTA. If 12% of Republican voters support MARTA, then it will be enough to pass.

Party2018 Governor ResultsMARTA SupportMARTA Contribution
Democratic54%83%45%
Republican46%12%5%
   50%

There are a couple of caveats:

  • The support for MARTA among Democrats might change in a general election compared to a primary election.
  • The impact of a tax being included in the referendum. It’s very likely that a full-penny tax would lower the Democratic support.
  • The mix of Republican vs. Democratic voters will likely be different in a future referendum, especially if the referendum is not on a general election ballot.
  • We are not factoring the impact of independent/third-party voters.

See the map below that shows where this support is strongest. As expected, South Cobb and the 75/Cobb Parkway shows strong support while West Cobb shows the lowest voting share. This is driven from the low voting share of Democratic voters combined with the lower support for MARTA in these areas.

The main takeaway is that there is significant support for MARTA and our county and city leaders do not have to be scared of approaching MARTA as a solution to our future transit needs.

These maps also help us figure out where the strongest support for transit is in our county and how we can best share our message in the different areas of Cobb. Hint: we won’t be pushing for a MARTA line in West Cobb.

As always, let us know if you have any questions by emailing our team at team@cobb4transit.org

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