Saturday, August 14, 2010

71% -- but it's no landslide

Media hype: there's less to it than meets the eye. When is 669,033 not that much of a big deal?  What if we had a landslide victory but not too many voters showed up? Yup, the media cut loose on August 4..........."Proposition C Passes Overwhelmingly" in Missouri!  Missouri voters, 71% to 29%, made a splash as they approved a primary ballot initiative aimed at amending Missouri law to prevent the federal government from mandating the purchase of health insurance and also shield Missourians from punishment if they don't buy health insurance. Perhaps a quixotic crowd-pleaser.....the fate of this initiative in any court challenge is unknown.  See this coverage:

So. Missouri speaks. Missouri hates the federal health care legislation. The people have spoken. It's the big Mo for opponents of health care reforms. More evidence that America doesn't want the feds taking over health care. It's obvious, right?
Well, hold on a sec. The voice of democracy, yes, yes, but who's talking?  About 669,000 Missourians voted for Proposition C, and about 272,000 voted against it. Pretty lopsided. See these results:

But wait:  the adult population of Missouri is over 4.5 million, so only about 15% of Missouri adults voted for Proposition C. Hardly a landslide when you look at it that way.....and keep in mind that almost 80% of voting age adults in the state didn't bother to vote on Prop C one way or the other....

How about another frame of reference?  Missouri voted (by a razor-thin margin) for McCain in the 2008 election. In Missouri's August 3 primary election, Republican voters outnumbered Democratic voters almost 2-to-1, whereas across the U.S. registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans.
With the lopsided GOP turnout in Missouri, it would have been real news if Prop C had been defeated, and so the 71% "landslide" is just a yawner.....and it surely isn't a compelling proxy for the overall views of the American electorate.

So, Missouri Republicans did their thing with Prop C..........what's the big ____ deal?