David R. Henderson  

My Election Outcomes: An Update

TARP: A Gift for the Bondholde... Immigration Charity Bleg...

The day after November's election, I posted on my bets and on the results on a local tax increase referendum. Here's what I wrote on the local tax increase:

A friend and retired lawyer, Carl Mounteer, and I wrote the ballot argument against a property tax increase in Pacific Grove. The measure, Measure A, needed 66.7% to win. We got 34.95% and so squeaked out a narrow win. My gut told me that we would get 38% but in the last couple of days I revised that downward to 36%. I was close. BTW, a switch of 108 votes would have caused us to lose. Going by the number of pro-A signs and the pro-A mailer I received, I estimate that, if you leave out our time value for writing the ballot argument and writing a local newspaper op/ed and two letters to the editor, we were outspent by over 200 to 1.

One regular commenter, Ken B, asked what a ballot argument is. I'll get to what it is, what i think of it, and why it matters, shortly.

But first an update. It turns out that there were a number of ballots left to count. So on November 16, the tally stood as follows:
Yes: 5,768 66.10%
No: 2,958 33.90%

There were still ballots left to count and so this was getting us nervous.

Yesterday, here's how the count stood:
Yes: 5,868 66.05%
No: 3,016 33.95%

So it moved slightly in our favor. The "final" (we'll see) count is due out today. Our winning would be a great birthday present.

My colleague, Carl, and I were talking about it recently. We had fought a number of these tax increases in the last 5 years and, for the ones that required a 2/3 vote or more, we won all but one. He noted that the one we lost was one where we found out about it too late. So in that case, we didn't write a ballot argument against it and no one else did either. So we tend to think it matters: if you just point out to people that it's a tax increase, you get almost an automatic 30% against. Then you work for those last few points with your argument.

For Ken B, who asked what a ballot argument is. He's a fellow Canadian and so it's understandable that he didn't know. I remember being shocked in the fall of 1972, having just moved from Canada to Los Angeles, to see my fellow graduate students at UCLA bring in their big thick ballot arguments and sample ballots. "This is taxpayer-paid propaganda," I thought, and I still do. But if the government is going to finance propaganda, I want to be in on it. I've co-authored at least 4 ballot arguments or rebuttals.

The format is this: The big booklet contains the wording of the item being voted on and sometimes an "objective" analysis by some government official. Then the pro side makes its argument and the con side makes its argument. Then there's a "rebuttal" to each. I put "rebuttal" in quotation marks, because it rarely is a rebuttal. It's usually just a restatement of the arguments. When I write rebuttals, it won't surprise you to know, I actually try to rebut as well as restate the arguments I have room for within the word count.

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (9 to date)
Bostonian writes:

It's nice that Henderson has been able to defeat some local tax increases. At the state level, Democrats have now gained supermajorities in the California legislature, thanks in part to the demographic changes caused by immigration. The resulting tax increases will dwarf the ones he has thwarted. Open borders libertarians ought to consider the overall results of their actions.

David R. Henderson writes:

It's nice that Henderson has been able to defeat some local tax increases.

Ken B writes:

Mare-see as we say in Canada.I kinda knew what you meant from context, but sure is better than kinda.

"This is taxpayer-paid propaganda," I thought, and I still do.

Pretty much my reaction. I object to the government controlling the debate this way. I'd want a simple statement of the proposal.

I'd like to believe David's reaction and mine is a typically Canadian one, but it most assuredly is not. State radio and TV have enormous political and popular support in Canada.

Ted levy writes:

Bostonian thanks a Canadian immigrant for stopping a tax increase and in his next breath uses this as an argument against immigration.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Ted Levy,
Bostonian thanks a Canadian immigrant for stopping a tax increase and in his next breath uses this as an argument against immigration.
Wow, Ted! Good catch! I think of myself so much as an American that I totally missed this. Maybe my "handle" should be "Canuck" or "former Canuck."

Bostonian writes:

On Thanksgiving Day, I would like to thank David Henderson, Bryan Caplan, and Garrett Jones for their stimulating blog and for tolerating cranky commenters.

David R. Henderson writes:

Thank you so much. That's very graceful of you.
P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to you and to all the commenters.

Ken B writes:

Thanks to all. But, David? Dibs on Canuck!!

Foobarista writes:

Actually, much of the legislature changes were due to a massive effort to scare college kids in otherwise conservative places like Riverside and Chico to vote in large numbers to support the big new tax (usually, college kids don't vote in large numbers). Like most kids who haven't yet figured out that the D party doesn't mean free sex and free beer, they voted all-Democrat in addition to voting yes on the tax measure.

Now, the D's are licking their chops and wondering how they can break Prop 13, so they can give us New Jersey-level property taxes as well as the highest income tax levels in the nation. After all, it's for "the children", and please pay no attention to the government union men behind the curtain.

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top