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  • Referendum Spin

       April 05, 2006

    One of the many reasons yesterday's "Stop the War!" referendum irritated me so much was because I knew how the results would be spun. Today, Madison's Capital Times says:

    The results of the Bring the Troops Home referendums send a clear message: Wisconsin wants an orderly but quick withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Thirty-two cities, villages and towns voted Tuesday on the anti-war referendums - most of which called for immediate withdrawal. The raw vote totals were overwhelming. Sixty-one percent of Wisconsinites who cast ballots on the referendums voted yes for withdrawal, while only 39 percent voted no.

    The referendums won in 24 of the 32 communities where they were on the ballot, prevailing easily everywhere from cities such as Madison and La Crosse to suburbs such as Monona and Shorewood, to county seats such as Baraboo and Sturgeon Bay, to tiny hamlets such as Door County's Ephraim, population 353. The highest proportion of yes votes came in rural Sawyer County's Couderay, where a stunning 82 percent of voters said it was time to bring the troops home.

    Many of the communities that voted to bring the troops home had previously backed President Bush in presidential elections. Clearly, it was not just progressives and Democrats who backed these referendums. They won support from independents and honest conservative Republicans.

    To this I simply say, "bull". Wisconsin did NOT send a clear message about anything and here's why. Referendums like these are put on the ballot at specific times in order to insure the lowest turnout possible. Only the very motivated vote. In the city of Madison, 35,596 people voted on the referendum. In the 2004 election, 138,204 people voted for President.. For those of you keeping track at home, that means that 75% fewer people voted on this question. This referendum says nothing about what the people of Madison think, it simply shows what a small, single-minded minority thinks. As if we didn't know.

    As far as the idea that people other than progressives, commies and Democrats backed the referendum, that certainly wasn't the case in Madison. Yesterday, 68% voted "Yes" on the referendum. Back in 2004, a whopping 74% of the voters in Madison voted for John Kerry. So actually, you could argue that this referendum shows that some progessive and "honest" Democrats actually voted against the referendum. Ha!

    I resent the way that this whole vote was arranged to create a certain result and to spin that result as the voice of the people. Normally, that'd be good enough, as the government is determined by the people who actually vote, not the silent, non-voting majority. However, this case is a little different. There's nothing binding about this vote. It actually doesn't matter. It's a feel good salve for the folks who've been beaten in most major elections in the last 10+ years.

    Well, I hope they do feel good. At least somebody does. It makes me feel terrible that people think my state is sending such an irresponsible message.

    Posted by at April 5, 2006 01:15 PM

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    #  April 5th, 2006 2:04 PM      BVBigBro
    I would venture a guess that most, if not all of the places that voted yes on the referendum went for Kerry. I wonder what the demographics of Couderay are. Couderay may have received a heavy Chippewa vote. Couderay is 56.3% Native Amerivcan.
    #  April 5th, 2006 2:18 PM      kris
    According to the State Elections board, 100 out of 162 voters in Couderay (or 62%) voted for Kerry in 2004.

    If we assume that 25% of those voters showed up yesterday, that's about 40 people. So that "stunning" 82% is actually 32 people.

    32 people!

    Big, friggin' whoop.  
    #  April 5th, 2006 2:22 PM      BVBigBro
    My point is not the turnout, my point is that the communities that had the referendum were neither random nor representative of the state as a whole. On the November 2004 ballot, this referendum would have failed statewide.  
    #  April 5th, 2006 2:41 PM      kris
    20 of the 32 communities with a referendum voted for Kerry in 2004. Of those that voted for Bush, almost ALL were in extremely close elections with an overall number of small voters. I'm trying to find out how each of the communities voted on the referendum now.  
    #  April 5th, 2006 2:56 PM      kris
    More stats

    Of the 24 communities that voted "Yes", 17 went for Kerry in 2004. 3 communities voted for Kerry in 2004, but voted "No" yesterday.

    Statewide, the "Yay"s had it 61-39%. Take Madison out of the mix and it's 52-48%. Keeping in mind that these communities were handpicked to PASS the referendum, I think it would have been crushed statewide.

    Also, my estimate of 32 people in Couderay was way off. Only 18 people voted "Yes" there.  



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