by Steven Geoffrey Gieseler
This propaganda piece by the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund purports to show that the same Oregonians that overwhelmingly enacted their state's Measure 37–which requires payment for owners where burdensome government regulations result in property value decreases–now have buyers' remorse.
The Defenders cite a poll–they commissioned it themselves–they say proves that if only voters had heard more about the perils of Measure 37 before Election Day 2004, they would have rejected it. According to one of the outside pollsters, "The more people hear about Measure 37, the more they oppose it."
There's one big problem with this claim. Opponents of Measure 37 outspent the initiative's supporters by a margin of three-to-one. It was attacked relentlessly and dishonestly in public and in the courts. Nearly every newspaper in the state of Oregon editorialized against it, many predicting doomsday scenarios that haven't come anywhere close to fruition. And still it passed with over 60% approval, garnering more votes than any initiative in Oregon's history. So it's laughable for the Measure's opponents now to argue they just didn't get their message out.
The purpose of the Defenders' release is established by its subheading: "New poll a warning to voters facing similar measures in other states." I say no. Instead, the poll is but more evidence of the famous lament (attributed, almost universally and perhaps falsely, to Mark Twain) about the limited utility of some statistics.