GOP Rejects High-Speed Rail, Voters Reject GOP

How are the GOP governors who rejected high-speed rail projects doing? Buyer’s remorse has set in spectacularly swiftly – from Wisconsin to Florida, their approval ratings have a trajectory like locomotive plunging off a trestle.

The Republican’s anti-rail ideology is part and parcel of the GOP philosophy of  cutting government and slashing spending, saying it will magically create jobs when in reality it’ll just screw the public and transfer even more money to the wealthy. Voters in all four states are rejecting that approach and telling pollsters the GOP plan is “unfair to people like them.”

The bad news: Those states handed the GOP the car keys and said “YOU drive for the next four years”. Now they’re stuck with the results.

Florida – The headline in yesterday’s Miami Herald says it all: “Rick Scott among the least-liked governors in the nation“.

  • Scott took a plan that had bi-partisan support and full business backing and and derailed it, even fighting off a lawsuit from his own party-members in the Legislature.
  • Why? Probably because it was a showpiece for what high-speed rail could do and would have been the first in the nation to be up and running. Anti-rail and anti-government ideologues couldn’t let that happen.
  • Now Scott is at a dismal 29-57 percent approve/disapprove rating.
  • The bad news for Florida: They’re stuck with this guy for another three and a half years.

See: Florida’s High-speed rail money redirected to states that aren’t run by idiots

Wisconsin – Rejecting rail money was the first salvo in Governor Scott Walker‘s multi-front war against anything supported by Democrats, including collective bargaining, teachers/education, and science.

  • Walker’s approval isn’t as subterranean as Scott’s or Kasich’s, but 43-54 percent approve/disapprove isn’t anything to be proud of (and among key independent voters, he’s at 40-56).
  • The good news for Wisconsin: There’s a recall petition moving forward to pull the plug on Walker; four GOP State Senators are already facing recall elections in July.
  • Public Policy Polling (PPP) has Walker losing to former Senator Russ Feingold 52-42 if the recall election goes ahead – and with half the populace ready for recall, you can bet the Democrats will be motivated to get the petitions signed… at high speed.
  • The bad news: Even if Walker takes a hike, it’s probably too late to get any rail money back to Wisconsin, especially with the GOP Congress in Washington slashing spending. We’ll just have to see what happens next year, and whether rail-friendly Democrats take back the House.

See: Expensive Fallout Continues from GOP Train Rejection

Ohio – John Kasich is tanking, too. Like Walker, Kasich told the Feds Ohio didn’t want their high-speed rail money; like Walker, Kasich is also trying to trash collective bargaining rights for public employees, and faces a ballot measure in November that would derail his plans.

  • PPP has him at an anemic 33-56 approve/disapprove
  • If there was a do-over election with Democrat Ted Strickland, who Kasich beat in November, Kasich would lose in a rout, 59 to 34.
  • The bad news for Ohio: No do-overs. They’re stuck with Kasich. Maybe President Obama could appoint him ambassador to Kazakhstan?

See: Off the Rails: GOP Opens Reign By Killing Jobs

NJ's rejected transit tunnel

New Jersey – Some Republicans continue to talk up Governor Chris Christie as Presidential timber – although he hasn’t expressed an interest in actually running, he’s in second place in the latest Zogby poll, hot on the heels of African-American pizza executive Herman Cain, with Romney and the rest riding in the caboose (can you imagine an Obama vs Cain matchup in 2012?). But that may be a function of distance – among the people who actually KNOW something about him – New Jersey voters –  the rail-spitting governor is heading toward the ash-heap.

  • Last year Christie cancelled the largest mass transit project in the US – a tunnel under the Hudson Riverinto Manhattan that would double the region’s commuter rail capacity; rejecting billions in federal funds, killing thousands of jobs and wasting 10 years of planning.
  • Fairleigh Dickinson has him in negative territory for the first time, at 40-45 favorable/unfavorable and 44-44 approve/dissaprove (and 32% give him a “poor” rating).
  • 55% of voters say the state is “on the wrong track”.
  • Christie isn’t on the ballot in November, but members of the New Jersey State Legislature are – and FD’s poll shows New Jersey voters intend to vote Democrats back into control, by a 42-32 margin (that’s a lot of undecideds, but in the past couple of elections the “disgusted undecided” vote has tended to stay home…)

See: NJ Gov Cancels Mass Transit Project. Is America Going Off the Rails?

Hang on to your hats. It’s going to be a bumpy year.

More on High Speed Rail:

(Trainwreck photo via mpurcell under a creative commons license; Mickey Mouse train c Disney Animation)

Jeremy Bloom

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue.