"David, what's wrong?" said my wife Rena last night as she heard me gasping for air shortly after opening my computer while on the couch last night. She thought I might be having a stroke.
"I can't believe it," I said. "We won!"
What did we win? And who is "we"? We are my friend Carl Mounteer, three women in Pacific Grove, and I. We beat back a bond issue with an associated tax increase of $30 per $100,000 in assessed value. The money was to be used by the Pacific Grove government schools for computer technology. One possible use of the funds was to buy iPads for the students.
We were outspent. Going by the number of signs I saw, a mailer the "Yes on G" people sent out, and a web site they had, I would guess that the other side spent at least $5,000. I spent $23 and one woman on our side spent about $160. That was about it. So, if my estimates are right, they outspent us by over 25 to 1.
With other tax increases where the funds are earmarked for specific categories of expenditure, the pro-tax side needs 2/3 of the vote. But for bond issues for government schools in California, the taxers need only 55%. My allies and I have generally been successful in helping prevent tax increases when the 2/3 threshold is required. But we have done so with votes of 34 to 38 percent. I went into this pretty much positive that we would lose, but committed to trying to get our total to the low 40s so as to make a statement.
Thus my surprise when, 35 minutes after the polls closed, the count of absentee voters showed the pro-taxers with 50.05% of the vote and us with 49.95% of the vote. Their vote total exceeded ours by half of the number of people who signed up for ObamaCare on the first day. That's right: they had 3 more votes than we had.
I've purposely avoided posting on this until the election was over because it could have been taken as an attempt to influence the vote. You know--all those Pacific Grove residents who read this site.
Why post at all? Partly to celebrate, but also to make a point about celebration. My friend and fellow blogger Alex Tabarrok recently wrote:
I feel fortunate to have never been emotionally invested in the winner of any election. It's all a carnival of buncombe to me-a giant robbers cave experiment for the amusement of those in the know.
Now, if Alex's point is about winners in elections between people, I totally get it. It's hard to think of a politician I was emotionally invested in where I wasn't sorely disappointed whether he won or lost. If he lost, I was disappointed in the moment. If he won, I was disappointed when I saw him in office doing the things he did.
But fighting against tax measures is different. When you win, you know that that tax won't actually be imposed. I'm still bubbling over from that. I highly recommend the experience.