Atlanta area voters said "no" to a proposed $7 billion transportation tax that was promoted as a solution to the metropolitan area's legendary traffic congestion, despite a campaign in which supporters outspent opponents by more than 500 to one.
With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that the measure lost 63% to 37%. This 26% margin of loss was nearly three times the margin shown in most recent poll by the Journal-Constitution. Proponents had claimed on the weekend that the measure was "dead even" three days before the election.
Proponents spent heavily on the campaign, with reports ranging up to $8.5 million in campaign donations, indicating a cost to contributors of more than $30 per vote. Opponents raised less than $15,000.
The tax issue failed in all 10 counties. The defeats were modest in Fulton County (the core county, which includes most of the city of Atlanta) and DeKalb County (which contains the rest of Atlanta). Huge "no" vote margins were recorded in the largest suburban counties. In Gwinnett County, the no votes prevailed by a margin of 71% to 29%. In adjacent Cobb County, the margin was 69% to 31%.
On election morning, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution featured opposing commentaries by regional planning agency (Atlanta Regional Commission) Chairman Tad Leithead and me. Chairman Leithead stressed the view that the tax would lead to reduced traffic congestion, job creation and economic development. My column stressed the view that the disproportionate spending on transit (53 percent of the money for one percent of the travel market) would not reduce traffic congestion.