Saturday, November 10, 2007

Star-Ledger fails to rationalize defeat of NJ stem cell bond question

In Two forces combined to blindside stem cell champions, the Newark Star-Ledger places the defeat of New Jersey stem cell bond issue on public discontent with the state's borrowing, and the work of conservatives and religious leaders who opposed the ballot question's passage.

Although one has the text --"There's always a difference between people who support a concept and those willing to spend money on it. It's always harder to get the money," said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute--, the Star-Ledger neglected to mention that a Rutgers-Eagleton poll in October 2007 found that by a 56%-37% margin, likely voters would support a $450 million bond referendum question to fund stem cell research.

Similarly, text in the Star-Ledger directed to economic factors

--"This was an unfortunate vote caused by the fact that the people of New Jersey, like the rest of the people of the United States, are facing especially difficult economic times," said Steve Brozak, president of WBB Securities in Westfield, a firm that specializes in biotechnology, medical devices and banking, with a special emphasis on stem cell research. "That a progressive state like New Jersey says no to this tells me we are already in one heck of an economic downturn." --

also does not account for the hugely inaccurate prediction of the Rutgers-Eagleton poll, unless voters suddenly figured out New Jersey was in an economic mess only in late October 2007.

Additionally, text in the Star-Ledger directed to religious factors

--Last month, Catholic bishops in the state sent letters to all churches explaining the Catholic position against embryonic stem cell research. Pastors read the letters at Mass and put them in church bulletins, said James Goodness, a spokesman for the Newark Archdiocese. The dioceses also produced a 14-minute video with the Knights of Columbus.--

also does not account for the Rutgers-Eagleton poll, which had noted: Catholics support the measure by 48%-41% and evangelicals and born-again Christians do so by a similar 48%-42% margin.

The failure of polling to predict the outcome of the New Jersey stem cell bond issue will go right up there with the unfortunate newspaper headline of Dewey defeats Truman.

The failure of the newspapers to unravel "what happened" with the bond issue is also not encouraging.


Also in the Star-Ledger article:

Wise Young, a spinal cord researcher at Rutgers University, said the effort to support the referendum question was probably hurt by supporters' unfamiliarity with political campaigning. He was shocked to learn a radio spot would cost $150,000 to reach northern, southern and western New Jersey.

In a comment to the IPBiz post "Princeton Fog," one has the text:

The October 24, 2007 issue of US 1 had a story (by Barbara Fox)touching on the NJ stem cell bond issue vote, although otherwise concerning stem cell advocate Wise Young. Bond opponents were divided into "fiscal" opponents and "ethical" opponents. The article mentioned the work by Joesph Seneca of Rutgers predicting that $450 million would gnerate $1.4 billion in new dollars and $71.9 in state revenue.

Curiously, the Star-Ledger mentions the spending of the opponents, but not spending of the proponents.

Lonegan's group spent $450,000 to defeat the bond issue, but money wasn't the only fuel driving the opponents.

Previously, the New York Times noted that proponents of the bond issue mounted a tepid two-month campaign with about $600,000.

Note well the post at

By Editor - October 25, 2007 - 9:15am
Tags: Jon Corzine, James E. McGreevey,

New Jersey voters are likely to pass a $450 million bond issue to finance stem cell research – by a 57%-36% margin -- according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll released today. Catholic voters support the referendum 48%-41%, while voters identified as evangelical or born-again Christians support it by a 48%-42% margin. Of the likely voters who oppose the referendum, 26% say they disagree with stem cell research on moral grounds, while 58% say the state can’t afford the added debt.

“The margin favoring approval of the stem cell research bond issue is typical for recent ballot questions about state uses of public funds, despite public controversy surrounding this type of research,” said Tim Vercellotti, director of polling at the Eagleton Institute of Politics. “That some of the key constituencies expected to oppose the ballot question, such as evangelical Christians and Republican voters, are narrowly in favor or divided speaks to the strength of public support for the bond issue.”


Rutgers-Eagleton Poll of October 25, 2007
Voters set to approve stem cell research bonds By Editor - October 25, 2007 - 9:15am Tags: Jon Corzine, James E. McGreevey, New Jersey voters are likely to pass a $450 million bond issue to finance stem cell research – by a 57%-36% margin -- according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll released today. Catholic voters support the referendum 48%-41%,

For some background material, recall Roger G. Noll's 2005 paper on the politics and economics of state-sponsored stem cell research. Noll asserts therein that the Bayh-Dole Act has NOT had a major effect on the extent to which university work is commercialized (page 12).


See previous IPBiz posts:

New Jersey voters reject bond measure on stem cell research on 6 Nov 07

New York Times on the failure of the NJ stem cell bond issue


Blogger L. Craig Schoonmaker said...

Here again we see that people lie to pollsters in order not to be seen in a negative lite. People who believe it is immoral to kill babies to keep adults alive may be embarrassed to be thought of as turning a cold heart to the suffering of sick adults, for taking the hard, yet principled stand, "Your health problems are YOUR health problems. You do not have the right to kill someone else to cannibalize their body for your benefit." The people have spoken, more wisely than many of us would have thought in advance: all life ends, but babies must have the right to live before they die. And killing others to stay alive yourself is the behavior of vampires, not human beings.

5:34 PM  

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