In about a month’s time, less than half of eligible voters will be exercising their right and heading to polls to make their electoral choices.
Most of those voters have already made their decisions, but that doesn’t seem to stop any number of tax-exempt political organizations from showering hapless voters with a seemingly endless supply of fliers.
Fliers of dubious quality.
Sure, the paper stock is nice – glossy and thick – but the words within are generally without merit.
So over the past month or so, I’ve taken it upon myself to collect the fliers I’ve received to separate the wheat from the chaff. Fortunately, a couple of things become immediately apparent.
First, though the fliers look different, the content is the same. The majority of the fliers that made their way to my mailbox were from Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government, or CCAG.
This immediately reduced the actual content by more than one half. And second, the content was, for lack of a better word, copy-and-paste. A few different pictures, the addition of the word “poodle” and you’ve got new information.
As it turns out, the majority of the fliers I received are from Republican-based organizations. I guess it’s because the GOP is going after Independent voters which, according to a recent Gallup poll, now make up about 42 percent of all voters nationally. And, according to the same poll, only 25 percent are registered Republicans.
Here in Colorado, a battleground – battleground? – state, the numbers are even more difficult to parse out: 42 percent of voters are Democrat or leaning that way and 42 percent lean or are Republican. In my capacity, I will steer clear of emotional, religious, or belief-centered election topics – abortion, gun control, gay marriage, etc. – and concentrate on the economic topics, as these are fodder for ethicists, religious leaders and scientists.
My current favorite comes from CCAG. In its information-packed mailer, they contend that Mike McLachlan, the Democratic candidate for state representative, (could have) “destroyed 119,700” Colorado jobs by voting for a tax hike. OK, but let’s read the fine print. The source for this gem of economic analysis is, with all due respect, the pagosadailypost.com, not exactly The Wall Street Journal or Financial Times. I could not find such an article. The closest I found was an economic-impact study.
However, the data tells a slightly different story: Since the above-mentioned ghost citation was released Colorado has 4 percent more jobs and the unemployment rate is about 45 percent lower.
The situation in La Plata is little different – for the good. Employment is about 7 percent higher, and the local labor force is line with the rest of the state. Unemployment is 35 percent lower. Clearly, right-leaning organizations do not have a monopoly on hyperbole nor misleading statistics. In fact, both parties rely on a level of voter culpability to elect their chosen ones.
It’s time for voters to call out these organizations.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Robert “Tino” Sonora is professor of economics at Fort Lewis College and the director of the Office of Business and Economic Research at Fort Lewis College.