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Read up on reports of the results of Tuesday’s vote on Missouri’s Proposition C* and you’re going to notice what James Taranto did: there’s an urge to declare the vote ‘largely symbolic‘ (amusingly, this includes Taranto’s own Wall Street Journal, or at least the portions of it that aren’t part of the opinion section). This is generally political-speak for ‘the voting public just kicked our rears on a policy issue:’ ‘largely symbolic’ votes where you agree with the results are instead ‘stunning reproofs’ or something else equally evocative of the Will of the People.
Largely symbolic or stunning reproof, it wasn’t a good day for Obamacare-friendly legislators. The percentages (71/29) are bad enough; what should worry Democrats is that more people came out to the polls to vote on Proposition C (940 thousand) than for the Senate primaries (900 thousand). As Sean Trende of RCP (which is owned by Time, which also amusingly calls this vote ‘largely symbolic‘**) notes, this represents an enthusiasm gap in Missouri partisan voting which is not consistent with Missouri’s historical data but is consistent with other state primaries this election cycle. And as the election gets closer, votes like these are going to have an effect on how people judge races.
To give the most obvious example, it just got a good bit harder for Carnahan supporters to argue that she has a chance against Roy Blunt. In the House races held by Democrats: Russ Carnahan in MO-03 took less than half the total votes cast; Ike Skelton in MO-04 got his first primary challenger in years, received less votes than Republican nominee Vicky Hartzler, and got about 20% of the total votes cast; and MO-05 Emanuel Cleaver II got less than half of the votes cast and was (barely) outnumbered by the total GOP vote. The only Democrat-held seat that doesn’t look more vulnerable today is MO-01: Missouri is supposed to be a swing state, but it wasn’t voting like that Tuesday night.
There are people who will argue that these numbers are all due to the aforementioned ‘largely symbolic’ vote against Obamacare. That doesn’t actually help the Democrats’ position, particularly if ‘largely symbolic’ votes like these turn Purple States into Red ones…
*Here’s the gist, from the MO SOS:
A “yes” vote will amend Missouri law to deny the government authority to penalize citizens for refusing to purchase private health insurance or infringe upon the right to offer or accept direct payment for lawful healthcare services. The amendment will also modify laws regarding the liquidation of certain domestic insurance companies.
A “no” vote will not change the current Missouri law regarding private health insurance, lawful healthcare services, and the liquidation of certain domestic insurance companies.
If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes.
**The Time article also attempts to describe the projected (at the time) turnout for the vote in terms of the GOP primary. It’d be a lot more accurate to describe the turnout of the GOP primary in terms of Proposition C.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.