Yesterday’s election results bothered the lovely Miss Marcotte no end!
These are not the only nuts: Tea Party governors and anti-LGBT statutes win when we stupidly stay home
How did conservatives crush a popular anti-discrimination ordinance in Houston? Urban legends and low voter turnout
By Amanda Marcotte | Wednesday, November 4, 2015 | 11:14 AM EST
While everyone—and I’m as guilty as the next political writer—was focusing heavily on the 2016 election, conservatives were able, yet again, to exploit the low voter turnout in off-year elections to keep racking up wins despite the general unpopularity for conservative policies. Nowhere was this more evident than in the city of Houston, which voted on Tuesday on the question of whether to repeal an anti-discrimination ordinance passed by the city council back in May.
The ordinance banned discrimination based on many things, including race, age, sexual orientation, and military service. But it was the ban on discriminating against people based on gender identity that opponents used as a wedge to attack the ordinance broadly, falsely claiming that by letting trans women use women’s restrooms, cis men would dress as women to rape women in public bathrooms.
The claim stinks of an urban legend—public bathrooms have snakes in the toilets and dress-wearing rapists in the stalls!—and city-wide polling data showed that citizens weren’t buying it. A few weeks ago, polling showed that the ordinance was up 6 points over repeal, with 43 percent of voters supporting it and 37 percent of voters opposing it. But somehow, on Election Day, the ordinance went down in an election that wasn’t even close.
What happened? Simple: Bigots were able to turn out the vote while non-bigots mostly stayed at home, assuming that this was a “small” election in an off-year and therefore one they could sit out.
If Miss Marcotte can freely label her political opponents as bigots, I suppose I can call her what she is as well: an idiot.
To be clear, this election had higher voter turnout than usual for off-year elections in Houston, but that appears to be largely because opponents of the anti-discrimination policy were able to rally their own voters. Knowing that very few ordinary people who generally support non-discrimination laws would turn out to vote, the religious right could hammer their own people, who are notoriously gullible, with tall tales about fantastical rapes by men in dresses. Off-year elections are candy to conservatives, because they can have this kind of disproportionate influence on the ballot.
This election was high turnout for a municipal election, with 27 percent of registered voters turning out. That was nothing compared to the 59 percent voter turnout in the presidential election year of 2012.
It’s not unreasonable to think the larger Houston population is smarter about these issues that the people who showed up to vote. The mayor of the city, Annise Parker (who advocated heavily for this anti-discrimination law) is not just a Democrat but is openly lesbian. Texas may be a red state, but Houston is actually quite liberal. If voters actually show up to the polls, that is.
Or, perhaps, the opinion polls were wrong. Erick Erickson noted that the pre-election polls have been pretty notoriously wrong for a while now, and, for amusement, I checked the Lost Kos, a hard-left website which tracks elections pretty closely:
Just days ahead of Kentucky’s gubernatorial election, GOP pollster Vox Populi released the first survey since June—and just the second one all year—that does not show Republican Matt Bevin losing to Democrat Jack Conway. Vox’s poll has the two leading candidates tied at 44 apiece, with independent Drew Curtis at 6.
Election junkies know that there’s been precious little polling out of the Bluegrass State, but Conway’s led in the last six surveys in a row—including in Bevin’s own internal. The only time anyone’s actually found Bevin ahead came over four months ago, when PPP, interestingly, put him up 40-38. That was a long time ago, though, and until now, no one had put up any numbers to contradict this string of a half-dozen polls.
But the question is, could Vox be right? It’s certainly possible. Last year, as a brand-new firm, Vox performed well, predicting much more success for Republicans than most other outfits. However, was this because they accurately understood the nature of 2014’s GOP wave? Or did they naturally lean in the direction of their partisan inclinations and just get lucky? We’ll find out on Tuesday.
Matt Bevin won by eight percentage points, and all of the statewide Democratic candidates underperformed what the polls said they would do. The Lost Kos wrote as though it was only because Vox Populi is conservative in orientation that they came up with a tie for Mr Bevin, an underhanded way of saying that the results should be discounted.
And so we come to the Speaker of the Kentucky House, Greg Dumbo Stumbo:
The Democrat Speaker of Kentucky’s House of Representatives, Greg Stumbo, was on a roll last night as it became obvious that Matt Bevin had not only won but had effectively curb-stomped the Democrat, Jack Conway. To hear him tell it, it was a rejection of God Himself.
“Let me tell you,” Stumbo said. “I am going to admit I have not read the holy book from front to finish like some of you probably have, but my reading of our Bible shows that the word Republican or Democrat isn’t used, and people sometimes ask me … ‘What would Jesus have been if he were alive? Would he have been a Democrat or a Republican?’
“Democrat,” audience members said.
“I don’t know,” Stumbo said. “Nobody knows. The Bible doesn’t tell us that, does it? But I believe the Bible is a book of parables … I don’t know whether Jesus would have been a Democrat or Republican, and nobody else does, but I know this. He was a carpenter and a teacher, and I bet every carpenter and teacher I know are pretty good Democrats.
“And the other thing I know is that if in fact the Bible is a book of parables, like I believe it is, think about this: Mary did not ride an elephant into Bethlehem that night. So you go home and you go to your church and you tell people, I’m a Democrat, I’m a God-fearing Democrat. I’m a Democrat that believes in the principles of the Bible that become the principles of our party, that this wealth accumulation in America has to cease, that people have to have a right to have an equal education opportunity, that people have a right to have health care, that people have a right to enjoy the American Dream, and we will rebuild this party starting right here in Kentucky.”
I can only believe that either alcohol and/or narcotics were involved in this. The only other explanation is that [A typographical error keeps us from seeing that only other explanation, but I’d suggest outright stupidity.]
No one is deserving of humiliation more than anyone who would claim their political party embodies very essence of Christ. When your party makes a fetish of pissing on the Ten Commandments and the Gospels becomes offensive. Not to put too fine a point on it, the Democrats are the party of infanticide, they are the party of sodomy, they are the party of covetousness, they are the party of theft, the are the party of sexual licentiousness. I’m not saying the GOP is holy by any stretch of the imagination but, Merciful Heaven, we haven’t accepted actively hostility to Christianity as one of our principles.
I’m trying to figure out if Our Lord would join the party which supports abortion up until natural birth . . . if not after.
Returning to Miss Marcotte, she stated that conservative ideas, that Republican principles, “are generally unpopular,” but that Republicans are still doing well at winning actual elections. Perhaps her view that conservative principles “are generally unpopular” is informed by the same polls which have gotten actual election results so wrong. Harry Enten wrote:
Just as in 2014, the polling underestimated Republican candidates in Kentucky in 2015, but did so in a fairly uniform fashion. On average, SurveyUSA and Western Kentucky University (WKU) missed the final margin by 13.4 and 11.1 percentage points, respectively, in the elections for agricultural commissioner, attorney general, auditor, governor, secretary of state and treasurer.
KENTUCKY POLLING ERRORS OFFICE SURVEYUSA DEM LEAD WKU DEM LEAD ACTUAL MARGIN SURVEYUSA BIAS WKU BIAS Agriculture commissioner -7.0 -7.0 -20.2 +13.2 +13.2 Attorney general +12.0 +6.0 +0.2 +11.8 +5.8 Auditor +8.0 +5.0 -3.9 +11.9 +8.9 Governor +5.0 +5.0 -8.7 +13.7 +13.7 Sec. of state +13.0 +11.0 +2.3 +10.7 +8.7 Treasurer -2.0 -5.0 -21.3 +19.3 +16.3 Average +13.4 +11.1
A look at the table above reveals that the polls and the results for the different races were highly correlated (0.96 for WKU and 0.97 for SurveyUSA). It’s as if the the electorate became about a dozen percentage points more Republican between when the polls were taken and Election Day.
It’s not yet clear whether pollsters simply projected that more Democratic voters would show up than actually did or whether undecided voters broke overwhelmingly for the Republican candidates. The former suggests an electorate modeling problem that could be a big problem during the presidential primaries, when turnout is low. On the other hand, trouble modeling the electorate would be less of an issue in the 2016 general election, when turnout is at its highest.
Even in the two statewide races that the Democrats won, the winners were scions of longtime Kentucky political families — Andy Beshear, son of the outgoing Governor, won the race for Attorney General, while Alison Lundergan Grimes held onto the Secretary of State’s job — and they won by much smaller margins than the polls had predicted.
I had previously noted the silliness of Brad Friedman, who has claimed for years that the pre-election polls were the true vote counts, and that the actual elections were fraudulent. It’s just too bad for the left that, as we have noted before: the only polls which actually mean anything are the ones conducted on election day.
Cross-posted on The First Street Journal.