This may shock you, but voters are less likely to support an accurate description of Ed Martin's ballot initiative than a simplistic description crafted by his GOP pollster.
The Missouri Roundtable for Life and President Ed Martin are currently engaged in a legal battle (proudly described by Martin as a "nuisance" lawsuit) with the Secretary of State, Attorney General and State Auditor to rework the ballot summary language for their proposed constitutional amendment to ban public money for abortions and embryonic stem cell research. Desperate for some media attention (garnering free media is one of Martin's main goals with the lawsuit), Martin released the organization's poll data (presented in court weeks ago), which was dutifully picked up by the press. The polling data is presented as evidence that the summary put forward by SOS Robin Carnahan is unfair -- except there's no actual evidence in the polling that the ballot summary is unfair.
Here's the first example from Martin's crew:
The Missouri Roundtable for Life said 48 percent of poll respondents indicated they were likely to support an initiative "to make it unlawful to expend, pay, or grant any public funds for abortion services," and 41 percent indicated they would likely oppose it.
But when it was noted that abortion services would include "those necessary to save the life of the mother" — the phrase used in the wording approved by Carnahan — support dropped to 38 percent and opposition rose to 44 percent, the Missouri Roundtable for Life said.
How is it "unfair" to give voters an accurate description of the proposed amendment's very real consequences? The memo doesn't say. But Eddie doesn't like it, so it must be illegal.
When asked about a measure "to make it illegal for the legislature, state or local governments to expend, pay or grant public funds to certain types of stem cell research currently allowed under Missouri law," 39 percent indicated support and 43 percent opposition.
When asked about wording preferred by the Missouri Roundtable for Life — whether to "make it unlawful to expend, pay or grant any public funds for human cloning" — support rose to 55 percent and opposition fell to 36 percent.
Again, there's no reason given why this description is inaccurate or unfair. It's just that voters don't like the proposal nearly as much when given a more complete description of the initiative, so it must be illegal.
How this article was written without any mention of the players behind the suit is a different, but perhaps larger question. Despite his central role in the whole conflict, Ed Martin's name is completely absent from the piece. Martin, you'll recall, has stated publicly that the lawsuit was filed to be a "nuisance" to the Secretary of State, that the lawsuit is a great way to get free earned media (like the article in question) and that he considers the Secretary of State to be "the devil."
Including Martin's stated goals and beliefs about the Satanic motivations of the SOS seems "fair," no?