Off Track

FGS Global’s Research and Insights team found partisan divides on the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. The results come from a canvass of TrendSpotters, FGS Global’s community of 300 news-attentive Americans.

  • Participants have paid close attention. 72% have heard a lot about the incident, while 23% have heard a little. Most describe the materials that were being transported as “hazardous,” “toxic,” “poisonous” and “dangerous.” 
  • Reactions to the events divide sharply along party lines. Democrats are quick to blame “regulatory failures” and “corporate greed,” while Republicans focus on what they see as a poor administration response. 
  • Republicans are scathing of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s performance—with many feeling he is out of his depth. Even Democrat respondents feel Buttigieg took too long to visit.
  • Democrats call for a wholesale revamp of how hazardous materials are shipped via freight rail. Democrats want to address perceived systemic problems— viewing even the smallest chances of release as unacceptable.
  • In contrast, Republicans see risk as inherent, and call only for minor regulatory changes. Republicans want to minimize perceived one-off accidents while protecting manufacturing.
  • Respondents on both sides of the aisle support requiring rail carriers to take proper safety precautions, such as slower speeds, improved defect detectors and better braking. Half each of Republicans and Democrats support such a proposal.