The Washington Post may be getting beaten up for letting Ezra Klein go to the Seattle Mariners Vox Media, but at least they should know how to conduct a poll, right? So when the Post reported Sunday that six out of ten D.C. residents oppose Mayor Vincent Gray’s D.C. United stadium deal, including opposition across “virtually every demographic and political group,” that should be big news.
And it is, but both Gray and United supporters immediately called foul, noting that the poll asked if people “favor or oppose using city funds to help finance a new soccer stadium,” and complaining that this isn’t a fair cop:
“The poll question is, do you support public financing for a stadium in general?” says spokesman Pedro Ribeiro. “Not even the mayor supports that, because what the mayor has proposed is not public financing for a stadium.”
Um, yes, that is what he’s proposed, to the tune of about $200 million in city-funded land costs and tax breaks. It’s not financing of the whole project, no, but the question does say “help fund,” which is a reasonable shorthand for what Gray is proposing, even if obviously it would have been nice if the Post had spelled out the details of the funding plan in their poll. (Hopefully without putting any of the respondents to sleep.)
In any event, the Post poll shows D.C residents opposing the project by 59-35%, which is probably a way bigger margin than you’re going to erase by a mere tweak in wording. And it’s certainly not going to change the minds of respondents like this woman:
Rosalind Jackson-Lewis, a 57-year-old Riggs Park resident, said she is “absolutely, positively against it.”
“There are more pressing problems in the city, and soccer is not going to add value to the city,” said Jackson-Lewis, a retired accountant. “Any extra money the city gets should go into education. . . . We need a better education system.”