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Thread: Post Mortem NJ Stem Cell Research Bond Referendum

  1. #1

    Post Mortem NJ Stem Cell Research Bond Referendum

    Well, the vote is almost all in. Only 81 of 6,289 precincts have not yet reported their votes. The end results indicate 47% for and 53% against borrowing $450 million for stem cell research. Most people have already acknowledged that the New Jersey has defeated the referendum. If one were to project the remaining precincts based on the votes cast already, the conclusions will remain the same, i.e. 47% for and 53% against the stem cell research referendum.

    Some commentators suggested that the results indicate that the voters don't want New Jersey to borrow more money and have higher taxes. However, the voters passed the $200 million Preservation Bond to buy land to maintain open spaces in New Jersey by 54% to 46% and they defeated the Dedicated Use of Taxes referendum by 47% to 53% that would have taken 1% of the sales tax to defray the property taxes, suggesting that they don't have such a serious problem with bonds or property taxes.

    The results of the stem cell referendum are surprising, not only because we lost but because we lost by such a significant margin. For that reason, I decided to analyze the voting data carefully to see if there are any patterns that can explain the vote. Once the data is tabulated, the explanation for why we lost became very clear. We lost the vote because we did not get the vote out, particularly in counties that strongly favored the stem cell referendum: Hudson and Essex counties.

    The overall voter turnout was very low (26.7%) but it was shockingly low at 9.9% in Hudson country (where Jersey City is) and 16.5% in Essex county (where Newark is). These turnout percentages may come up a bit because both counties still have precincts that have not reported in but the average number of votes per precinct is 71 and 129, consistent with very low turnouts. As shown in the table below, these two counties have the highest percentage of Democrats. Not only is the percent turnout low, the number of votes per precinct were also very low, i.e. 71 (Hudson county) and 129 (Essex County), compared to >130 in all the other counties. Both counties strongly favored the stem cell research referendum.

    In contrast, if one were to look at the top three large counties that voted against the referendum, i.e. Ocean (65% against), Atlantic (62% against), and Monmouth (57% against), their turnout rates were much higher at 32.4%, 30.4%, and 30.4%. With the exception of Mercer county which favored the referendum at 53%-47% and had a 33.1% turnout, none of the strongly democratic counties had turnouts exceeding 30%. Two counties (Salem and Cape May) had turnouts of greater than 40% and both voted heavily against the stem cell bond referendum.

    I separated the counties into three categories: those that support the stem cell bond (Hudson, Essex, Bergen, Mercer, and Camden), those that are almost evenly split (Union, Burlington, Passaic, Middlesex, and Gloucester), and those that are against (Morris, Somerset, Monmouth, Salem, Hunterdon, Cape May, Atlantic, Sussex, Warren, Ocean, and Cumberland). I colored these blue, yellow, and red. The blue counties had an average turnout rate of 21.7%, the yellow had a turnout rate of 24.8% and the blue had a turnout rate of 32.6%. If the turnout rates of the blue counties were higher, in the range of 30%, the results of the election would be different.

    While a low voter turn out is common for off-year elections, the turnout of 26% was much lower than previous years. In 2003, the last election when there were no federal offices up for election and all New Jersey legislative seats were up for election, the turnout was 34%. In 2007, at 26%, the turnout is nearly 8 points or 25% fewer voters than in previous years. NOte that almost all of the low turnouts were in the blue states. By comparison in 2004, because it was a presidential election, the turnout was 73%. In 2005, when there was a governor race at stake, over 59% of voters turned up.

    So, very clearly, the loss of the stem cell referendum was largely due to the low turnout in the blue counties and the higher than usual turnout in the red counties. This is probably related to the amount of money spent on advertising and getting out the votes in the red counties and the absence of such efforts in the blue counties.

    The results of some yellow counties were surprising. For example, Middlesex and Somerset counties are in Central Jersey. The Rutgers New Brunswick and Cook campuses are located in Middlesex while the Rugers Piscataway and Livinston campuses are located in Somerset. Of course, Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine (part of UMDNJ) is in New Brunswick and Piscataway as well. Yet, a majority of voters wre against the stem cell referendum. One would imagine that these counties would be at least influenced by the universities.
    Last edited by Wise Young; 11-07-2007 at 07:45 PM.

  2. #2
    Here is an updated map of New Jersey with the stem cell results.

  3. #3

    by Deborah Howlett
    Wednesday November 07, 2007, 1:40 PM
    Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-LedgerGov. Jon Corzine during a post-election press conference today.

    Gov. Jon Corzine said today he blames a "historically low" voter turnout and deep concern over the state's precarious finances for the drubbing Tuesday of the $450 million stem cell research ballot question he championed.

    He said the state has some current funding sources for stem cell research, about $10 million per year, and that he would reach out to the private sector to try and raise enough to make up the difference.

    "There is enough money for research and there are opportunities to partner with the private sector," Corzine said.

    He also said he may not have done enough campaigning for the measure, or explained well enough that the $45 million over each of the next 10 years could actually be a financial boon to the struggling state.


  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    last house on the left
    I don't know Wise, and I don't want to sound overly cynical, but part of me wonders if the voters of NJ had no problem with the 200 million Preservation Bond because they knew it would positively impact their own lives. Open spaces, controlled growth, less traffic, that sort of thing, whereas people often have blinders on about things that do not directly concern them. Unless you are or know someone with a SCI, juvenile diabetes, and the host of other conditions that stem cell research might help it is too easy for them to do the "but this doesn't concern ME thing."

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Eileen
    I don't know Wise, and I don't want to sound overly cynical, but part of me wonders if the voters of NJ had no problem with the 200 million Preservation Bond because they knew it would positively impact their own lives. Open spaces, controlled growth, less traffic, that sort of thing, whereas people often have blinders on about things that do not directly concern them. Unless you are or know someone with a SCI, juvenile diabetes, and the host of other conditions that stem cell research might help it is too easy for them to do the "but this doesn't concern ME thing."

    I spent so much time doing this analysis in order to head off the cynicism and the blame-game that inevitably follows a defeat of this nature. Believe me, there is plenty of finger-pointing and self-castigation going on. We must understand why we fail so that it never happens again. The advocacy movemetn in New Jersey was well set up for lobbying the legislature but we had no experience with getting out the vote and political campaigns. I was shocked by the cost of such campaigns. One day of radio spots is $150,000!

    Look, I blame myself for being complaicent and not realizing that there is so much more than we could have done. When I heard from somebody that only 40 Rutgers students on our campus voted, I realized that how crazy it is that we have not spent the whole year telling students at Rutgers to register to vote. We are not telling the students how to vote. We should be telling them to vote. Rutgers alone has 52,000 students! We have 360,000 living alumni, 180,000 of whom live in New Jersey. Rutgers and UMDNJ together have over 30,000 faculty and staff. We should have been holding advocacy group meetings all over the state. I should have rented a bus and gone on a bus tour of New Jersey. It goes on and on.

    Corzine is correct. We lost because we had a historically low turnout in this election and we didn't get our people out to the polls. The Catholic Church/Right-to-Life/American for Prosperity outspent us 10:1 and effectively got the votes out in the counties that voted against he referendum. I don't think that this vote reflects New Jersey voters. I know many New Jerseyans and I have great faith in their common sense and basic decency. This vote does not reflect the heart of New Jersey.


  6. #6
    Senior Member Foolish Old's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Florida Keys
    It is often hard to understand in one's gut that public good and fiscal soundness do not always triumph over determined opposition unconstrained by fact. This changes with experience. The trick is to become effective without becoming cynical.

    Any occurrence can either be a valuable learning experience or a mistake with no redeeming value. I'm guessing that this will prove to be the former. No mea culpas needed, no fingers to point at members of our own camp.

    Let's keep our heads up, learn how to do better, work harder.

    "We have met the enemy and he is us."-POGO.

    "I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it."~Edgar Allan Poe

    "Dream big, you might never wake up!"- Snoop Dogg

  7. #7
    Looks like the best thing to do is try and hit every NJ college campus and make registration easier. Are these sponsored in some capacity?

    The college age would probably more progressive in their thinking also.

  8. #8
    It is interesting that the Right-to-Life movement is now trying to claim that they are a "grassroots" movement.

    What Marie Tasy does not say is that the bond they just killed will be funding all types of stem cell research, not just embryonic stem cells. So, they are depriving the citizens of New Jersey all of stem cell research, not just embryonic stem cells. They also neglect to tell the people that no embyros are being killed, that they are all being thrown out, and the choice is between throwing them out and using them to save lives. The mantle of grassroots does not rest easy on an organization that probably is paying Marie Tacy a huge salary to be a full time spokesperson to oppose stem cell research that has absolutely nothing to do with abortions and nothing to do with the killing of embryos.

    The advocacy movement in New Jersey is a real grassroots movement. All the expenses are paid for by the advocates. Nobody is getting paid. I donate money to the citizens coalition and to the to help fund ads. Because i am an employee of a state university, I cannot lobby the government and thus this is all down on my time, cell phone, computer, and even paper. Jon Corzine gives his own money. So does Codey and Cohen. I am proud of the advocates.

    New Jersey Right to Life Executive Director Marie Tasy called the outcome a "large grassroots effort."

    "Groups were united," she told BP. "You had the pro-life community, who was very, very much motivated. The faith community came out. The Catholic Church was very active. And you also had the anti-tax people who also were very motivated. I think that all those people together presented a unified front and delivered a resounding defeat on this ballot question. … It is a very strong rebuke to the governor"

    Pro-lifers argued that such research is immoral but also a big gamble. After being formed, the $3-billion California stem cell institute issued a report saying any cures using embryonic stem cells likely were well over 10 years away. In fact, that report said the goal simply was to "have some therapies in clinical development" at the 10-year mark.

    "The bottom line from our perspective is this: Government should not be involved -- no way, no how -- in doing things that the private industry should be doing," Deo said. "Private industry is doing stem cell research -- but on adult stem cells, because adult stem cells are providing cures."

    Adult stem cells, sometimes called non-embryonic stem cells, have produced treatments for at least 73 ailments, according to Do No Harm, a coalition promoting ethics in research. Unlike embryonic stem cells, they can be harvested in ethical ways from, for instance, umbilical cord blood and cells within an adult's body.

    Deo applauded New Jersey churches for "educating their congregations" about stem cell research.

    "I think that showed that when the church speaks to the moral issues, people will listen and respond," he said.

    Elsewhere, Texas voters approved $3 billion in bonds for cancer research. Although some pro-lifers backed the measure, others opposed it, saying the money could be used for embryonic stem cell research. Supporters said the money wouldn't go toward such research, although they acknowledged there was nothing in the initiative's language to prevent it. It passed, 63-27 percent.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Oakville, Ontario
    Sorry to hear about the setback with the referendum. I hope that this turns out to be just a speedbump on the long term road to realzing the full potential of stem cells.

    (Wish Christopher Reeve were still with us. He was such a compelling, convincing force.)

    Thanks to everyone who worked so hard on this initiative.

  10. #10
    Here's a post from statehouse:

    Look, let's be honest - this state is corrupt from top to bottom. Give them $450 M and they will create a few jobs for their friends and cronies and waste it just the same way UMDNJ did.

    If a private NJ company wants to do stem cell work, let them go out and and get venture capital.

    Stop giving these thieves more money to put the state into greater debt and creating more patronage jobs.

    Tell me one thing: Have we seen any tangible benefits from the Tecnology Center of NJ? No of course not. More taxpayer money wasted as the technology industry has cratered in NJ with the demise of Lucent. There is no longer a technology industry in NJ and the politicians did nothing to save it - but they did waste a bunch of taxpayer money along the way.


    This was not about making stem cell legal, it was about having the state fund it when it is incompetient at running the finances of a girl scout bake sale. Remember, it was the McGreevy official who said they treated the SCC as a giant patronage pit. We know they would do the same with stem cell.

    I think these concerns played a bigger role and only a scientific survey would truly identify the "why."

    Here's another:

    Private business will not fund it is because embryonic stem cells are rejected by the body as foreign substances and fail to grow. Adult stem cells come from the injured person and thus are not rejected. It is why adult stem cell is advancing by leaps and bounds and embryonic is a funding source for researchers and nothing more. Corzine knows this, his own buddies at Goldman won't invest in it. It will cure nothing. Besides NJ owes more money than it has, borrowing 450 million more is giving corrupt politicians more of our money to play with.
    Last edited by NoDecafPlz; 11-07-2007 at 11:22 PM.

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