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FLASH REPORT GETS IT WRONG (I KNOW – WE’RE SHOCKED TOO) ON REDISTRICTING REFERENDUM
I consider Jon Fleischman a friend and his Flash Report blog an important reminder to California's resident ivory-tower intelligentsia that right-wingers can read and write, too - sometimes quite thoughtfully.
But his piece today (LINK: http://www.flashreport.org/blog/2012/01/06/state-senate-district-referendum-almost-sure-to-qualify/) on the ill-advised attempt by Republican politicians to overturn by referendum the will of California's voters and the hard work of the bipartisan, Citizens Redistricting Commission was unique in its brazen disregard of, you know, obvious, widely-accepted facts.
1) Let's start with its central premise - that their Republicans' sour-grapes referendum is "almost certain to qualify." Well, as any election-law attorney or reputable political observer will tell you, that's impossible to predict and, even more, based on all available information and indicators, it is highly likely the measure WON'T qualify. Consider this: the current overall validity rate is 72.51%, a relatively low number - so low in fact that it failed to qualify by random-sample process. Now, in a full count, it will need a validity rate of 71.19%, which seems achievable, right? Except, when you do a historical statistical analysis of measures that fail the random-sample process and are forced to do a full count, those full-count averages typically fall 3% below random-sample validity rates - since the full-count process exposes all of the run-of-the-mill duplicate and otherwise invalid signatures. Which, extrapolating forward, assuming historical statistical trends prevail, the measure is likely to fail. And Jon's "prediction" that the measure is "almost certain" to pass is about as credible as Michele Bachmann's "shock the world" guarantee in Iowa.
2) Jon also states as fact that the Court will "adopt its own lines" for the 2012 election, despite all evidence to the contrary. In fact, the Courts have repeatedly denied the Republican's desperate entreaties to stay the Commission's lines. And one can infer that the California Supreme Court is equally dubious about the referendum's odds of qualification, since, while they are proceeding to hear arguments on the matter, the Court has explicitly denied any request to appoint a Special Master to draw interim lines.
3) The most bizarre part of the claim-victory-in-throes-of-defeat Fleischman masterwork is its insistent spin that "triggering a full count" is a sign of strength - when every objective observer knows that a full count is a portent of failure. Essentially it means the Secretary of State isn't sure that the measure will qualify. In a random-sample process, if you are projected to get more than 110% of the signatures needed, you are deemed qualified. If you are projected to get less than 95%, you are automatically declared stone-cold dead. At their current validity rate, the GOP referendum is hovering south of 101%.
4) The worst feature of all this unsavory "we-made-the-full-count" back-slapping is that Republicans are essentially doing an end-zone celebration over wasting more taxpayer dollars. In cash-strapped Los Angeles County alone, it's estimated that the random-sample process cost taxpayers $6,551 and the full-count process will cost a whopping $218,366. Sacramento County will have to spend another $46,500 to complete its full count. Once again demonstrating that my Flash Report friends are only fiscal hawks selectively -- as long as it's not their OWN boondoggle being questioned.
5) All of this is a beside-the-point clown-car sideshow since, in the end, no rational political observer thinks this referendum has a snowball's chance to pass, even if it somehow does qualify. And I doubt the Republican politicians who sponsored it intend to spend any real money to pass it. Obviously, the real, cynical motive of the Republican establishment's machine is to use the very existence of the referendum to convince the courts to intervene and redraw its own districts for the 2012 election - essentially, to get a one-election mulligan on the independently and legally-drawn districts these same Republican officials once supported. To their credit, the courts have seen through this transparent ploy and not taken the bait. I guess they don't read Flash Report.Since Jon's a friend, I don't want to be TOO harsh. He did get one thing right. State Senator Mimi Walters DOES deserve much of the credit for convincing the financially-impoverished California Republican Party and their overly-burdened donors to gamble at least $2 million of their scarce resources on this long-shot, high-burn-rate political parlor trick. We Democrats are thrilled the CRP won't have any of that money to spend on behalf of Bill Berryhill.
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