Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Three places voter backlash didn't reach

So, it's election night. And obviously the big story is the apparent defeat of long-time Senator Arlen Specter. Already, pundits are saying the election is a sign that the electorate is fed up and rebelling against the powers-that-be.

Three places voter backlash didn't reach

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So, it's election night. And obviously the big story is the apparent defeat of long-time Senator Arlen Specter. Already, pundits are saying the election is a sign that the electorate is fed up and rebelling against the powers-that-be.

In many ways, this analysis is correct. However, there are two interesting counter-examples that show voter dissatisfaction wasn't universal.

First, city voters overwhelmingly voted to approve a bond measure to borrow $65.5 million for capital improvements. These questions usually pass easily, but considering the city hiked the sales tax last year and is talking about a property tax increase this year, there was reason to think voters might reject the measure to express dissatisfaction with City Hall. Instead, it passed by a 2-1 margin.

Second, voters in two legislative districts re-nominated politicians who have been charged with crimes. Despite being accused of criminal conspiracy by Attorney General Tom Corbett (now the GOP nominee for governor), both Rep. John Perzel (172nd) and Rep. Bill DeWeese (50th) prevailed in their primary elections.

We're not sure what separates these cases from the examples of voter backlash -- but it's worth noting that they exist.

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Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

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