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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The right follows the script on anti-war votes

As I noted last week, right-wing water-carrier Patrick McIlheran laid out the battle-plan for their response once Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly favored bringing American soldiers home from the civil-war-to-be that is Iraq. His plan had several elements (paraphrasing):
  1. The referenda don't mattter, since they're advisory
  2. The only voters in a low-turnout election are fringe activists
  3. The real people behind the referenda are commies (who also seem to have elected themselves a mayor, according to Wigderson) and people who want failure in Iraq
  4. The questions are worded badly
  5. The places voting also voted for Kerry, so, you know, they hate America or something
  6. (In a follow-up post to his blog) Those towns don't represent much of Wisconsin's population, anyway
So I was quite interested to look around today to see whether or not the response actually went by the numbers. I'm sure you're not surprised, either, that it did.

To start, P-Mac himself gets in on the action at his blog, linking approvingly to bloggers who followed his plan. He starts with fellow Journal Corp. employee Jessica McBride, who in one post manages to hit three out of the six:
The referendum results are only symbolic of public sentiment against the war if you buy that Madison, La Crosse, and Shorewood are symbolic of the public overall in this state or region. They are not. [. . . O]verall, only 66,465 voted--about the size of the City of Waukesha. [. . .] I believe that the extremist "peace groups" that organized the referendum movement strategically targeted extremely low population rural townships in northern Wisconsin (and communities in Door County) because it would be easier to drive up the overall number of "passing" referendums (and drive the leads and headlines). This is especially true because they knew it would be a low turnout election. [. . . T]here really wasn't much turnout. Hardly indicative of "public sentiment against the war," is it?
This is after, of course, she re-wrote history by proposing this alternative lede for today's news stories:
More voters in 30 Wisconsin communities voted Tuesday to stay the course in Iraq than wanted the troops to withdraw. It was purely a symbolic message, but a heartfelt one.
Massaging the data--by pretending three cities didn't vote--makes it turn out the way she wants to! Plus, throwing in the "symbolic" adds a fourth line from the script.

McIlheran then links to Marquette Professor John McAdams, who plays with numbers:
A genuine groundswell of anti-war sentiment should move people who voted for Bush to defect and express their disapproval of the Iraq War. This doesn’t appear to have happened.

It is true that Draper voted for Bush in 2004, and has now voted anti-war. Likewise, Edgewater, which went for Bush by 212 votes to 153 votes for Kerry, has endorsed the anti-war measure. But on the other hand, Egg Harbor leaned toward Kerry in 2004, and has rejected the referendum. [More examples and percentages glossed over for the sake of time.]

Turning to conservative and Republican Watertown, which favored Bush by a 62.3% to 37.7% margin, we find the town rejected the anti-war referendum by an even more lopsided 74.8% to 25.2% margin. For from eating into Bush’s conservative base, the referendum seems to have firmed it up.
McAdams is ad-libbing here; but judging by how extensively P-Mac quotes him, he likes the revisions to his script. McAdams's main point seems to be that because a referendum didn't win by as much as a candidate, the right can dance a jig in victory. A win, he says, isn't a win.

Others all over have linked to McBride and McAdams as approvingly as McIlheran does. Dane101 has a brief round-up that points out a few of those bloggers (and many responses on the left, as well). Some others on the right hit the script on their own. Owen, for example, uses number six; Rick Esenberg goes for number two, with a touch of number four thrown in:
Of course, however the numbers came out, this was always a stunt. We know what the public large thinks of an immediate and orderly withdrawal from Iraq. We know because an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll just asked that very question. The public opposes such a withdrawal. 66%-30%. That a bunch of activists can cherry pick some towns in Wisconsin and get a different result doesn't change that.
Rick himself does some cherry picking of that poll he cites--as I point out in the comments to his post--since it also shows that 61% of Americans want an immediate reduction of our force in Iraq.

But my favorite repsonse so far must be that of a commenter at the Badger Blog Alliance who laments, "I can just imagine what is flying around the Islamofacist internet." Because, as you well know, the hottest topic of discussion around the IED factory is what the 22 voters in Couderay, Wisconsin, think of the idea to bring our troops home where those self-same IEDs can't kill them.

***

By far the best work on the referenda from side of goodness and light--though without all the flag-waving McBride engages in--has come from Seth at In Effect. He has both a pretty map and a much clearer analysis of the numbers.

Update: The Spice Boys are, as usual, late to the party.

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