Poll reveals something about Measure 2Well, it could be the anti-Measure 2 side’s funding: “We knew going into this that we were going up against big money and powerful people and knew this would be challenging to push,” said Charlene Nelson, chairwoman of Empower the Taxpayer, to Forum Communications.
By: Grand Forks Herald, The Jamestown Sun
Well, it could be the anti-Measure 2 side’s funding: “We knew going into this that we were going up against big money and powerful people and knew this would be challenging to push,” said Charlene Nelson, chairwoman of Empower the Taxpayer, to Forum Communications.
Or it could be a bias in the poll’s questions: “(Y)ou kind of have to wonder if the way the question was worded didn’t skew things,” Rob Port wrote in a post at SayAnythingBlog.com.
It could even be that the poll’s methodology was flawed: “Who would the Forum call?” wrote “Petey” in a comment on a Herald story on the poll.
“If they got the numbers from subscriber lists or the phone book (home phone/landline) they are calling ANTIQUES … older people. Golly, I wonder if that had an impact on the outcome of the ‘random survey’?”
Yes, the landslide 3-1 rejection of Measure 2 in a Forum Communications poll could be the result of any of those things.
But it’s probably not.
When public-opinion majorities get that large, a polling version of Occam’s Razor comes into play: “Among competing hypotheses, choose the one that offers the simplest explanation of the effect.”
In this case, the simplest explanation is the one that doesn’t tap dance around the poll result or try to explain it away.
The simplest explanation accepts that according to the poll, a supermajority of North Dakotans rejects Measure 2.
The residents have looked at the proposed constitutional amendment to eliminate property taxes. And they reject it, just as they rejected a 2008 proposal that promised voters a similar windfall by cutting income taxes in half.
Why? Why would voters behave in these ways, which arguably hurt them in the pocketbook, where it counts?
Now we’re on softer ground, as happens any time you speculate about motives. But there’s one observation that explains not only those results, but also a great many other political episodes over the past decade or more:
On balance, North Dakotans think they get good value for their tax dollar.
Why don’t Grand Forks voters throw the City Council, School Board or Park Board rascals out? Because a majority thinks they get good value for their dollar.
Why didn’t the Republican-majority Legislature upend the public-sector retirement, higher education, K-12, oil tax or almost any other state-run system?
Why do calls for slashing government have such a tough time gaining traction, even in a supposedly conservative state?
Let’s be clear: North Dakota and every one of its governments have problems. To take just one example, Dickinson State University’s handing out of unearned degrees by the hundreds ranks among the worst scandals in the history of the state.
But critics would be a lot more effective if they recognized that most North Dakotans aren’t looking for big government or for small government. They’re looking for good government.
And judging by the results of the Forum Communications poll, “good government” is what they think Measure 2 puts at risk.