Home Transportation Did Washington Post Downplay Poll’s Support for WMATA Silver Line?

Did Washington Post Downplay Poll’s Support for WMATA Silver Line?


UntitledPolls show DC area residents support train, bus, biking and pedestrian projects much more than they support building new or wider highways. However, the Washington Post editorial board strongly supports new highways and spun a poll this week to mean that our fellow Virginians don’t support the Silver Line. As Slate’s Matt Yglesias points out, the numbers don’t necessarily back up that spin:

But the really weird thing is that it’s by no means clear that this is what the poll has found. What it says is that 32 percent of the population says the Silver Line project is “not at all important” while 32 percent deems it either “extremely” or “very” important and a further 32 percent says it’s “somewhat” important. The “not important to most Virginians” interpretation is supported by lumping the “somewhat” and “not at all” categories together as “negative” responses. But the straightforward reading of the poll is that the median Virginian thinks the Silver Line project is somewhat important. And it is somewhat important! So why not just say that?

In the face of Republican political games, The New Republic’s Alec MacGillis says strong support of the Silver Line can be a winner for Tim Kaine in his U.S. Senate race against George Allen.

  • NotJohnSMosby

    it was pretty bogus.  Asking people in Southside if they think the state should spend $400 million on a subway line in NoVA is bound to get a lot of “no” votes.  That would be like asking us if some road in Southside should be widened or if a new bridge should be built.  

  • loudoun independent

    Not John is on the right track.

    If given four options, “extremely important”, “very important”, “somewhat important”, and “not at all important”, and a majority choose the last two options, it is perfectly fair to interpret those results as a negative response. 64% of Virginians, out of four poll choices, chose the two least supportive answers. That has to count for something; as I’m fond of saying, you can’t ask people their opinions and then assume they got their opinion wrong.

    But Not John’s point is the most valid; the majority of Virginians probably did not get their opinion wrong, but its not their opinion that matters. Loudoun County, and the other NoVa jurisdictions, are the only ones making a direct funding decision. Constituents of Loudoun Supervisors shouldn’t care what people in Roanoke care about. And according to the Post, a vast majority of those in NoVa feel the Silver Line is important.

  • Mike1987

    I’m not surprised Kaplan U and it’s subsidiary WAPO would skew the results by downplaying it. What with taxpayer funding and ALEX support….. ideology trumps everything