A new poll from WBUR and MassINC shows that, over the past month, support among Boston-area residents for bringing the 2024 Olympics to Boston has nosedived. As a result, one of the key claims made by Boston 2024 to the USOC – that Boston residents strongly support a Boston Olympics – has been badly undermined.
Here’s the short version of the WBUR poll:
As you can see, support has decreased off by 7%, while opposition has increased by a more substantial 13%, so that a 46-44 plurality of respondents now oppose bringing the Olympics to town.
Even larger is the shift in the city of Boston itself. A month ago, WBUR found that Boston residents backed the Olympics 50-33. Now, city residents oppose the bid, 43-48. Opposition has increased by 15% over the last month.
These results are not especially surprising in light of this month’s epic collapse of public transportation in and around Boston. Here’s MassINC pollster Steve Koczela on the results:
“It has to do with voters now having a new appreciation of how bad the MBTA actually is and seeing the impacts of the storm and thinking there are other priorities in which money would be better spent,” Koczela said….
“There’s just questions about what people would get out of it,” Koczela said. “And if you talk about fixing the T, that’s something tangible, that’s something, particularly right now, people really can relate to as far as benefiting themselves.”
Importantly, these results are directly at odds with a key claim in Boston 2024’s bid documents, which now must be seen as obsolete. I wonder if Boston 2024 has any obligation to update these documents. Here is what they told the USOC:
Bidding for and hosting the Games in the Boston area are generally popular ideas…. In Boston alone, nearly 60% of residents favor the proposal to host the Olympics in the city…. Even before hearing details about the proposed bid, residents are receptive to the idea, and support jumps to a clear-cut majority after residents receive more information.
Maybe that was true a couple of months ago, though I think it’s dubious. It’s certainly not true now.
The message from this poll, and from Bostonians of all stripes over the last few weeks, seems to me pretty unmistakable: FIX THE T FIRST. The MBTA has to work. If that means shelving Olympic dreams while the legislature, the Governor, and the Mayor of Boston focus their energies on both short-term and long-term plans for getting the MBTA back in some semblance of working order, so be it.
And one more thing. Let’s kindly dispense with this frankly idiotic notion that an Olympic bid will somehow force us to do a better job of planning for the city’s future. That argument has never made much sense to me, and the last month I think pretty much demolishes it. If our elected leaders are not now fully convinced that the MBTA must be fixed, regardless of whether there is also a sporting event coming ten years down the road, then they have no business holding public office.