Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Holy Moly

Forget this ridiculous sideshow of election; this is the vote that should really be in the news everywhere, and which can potentially change the future of American politics:

For the first time, Puerto Ricans have voted for statehood.

This does not, of course, mean that the process of statehood for Puerto Rico has started: the referendum was nonbinding, that would require official action by both the Puerto Rican government and Congress, and there are obviously a lot of things that would have to be done even to gear up to something like that. But assuming this isn't a statistical fluke, and isn't due to people being confused about the questions, this is a notable shift, one that might eventually result in a definite difference in the political landscape. Puerto Ricans are already U.S. citizens, but since Puerto Rico is a territory rather than a state, it has no Electoral College votes and only nonvoting representation in Congress.

Of course, the big question is how in the world we're going to get fifty-one stars in the blue of Old Glory without making the flag look odd. It's already a very star-spangled banner. Here are two suggestions; the first is minimal change -- with all the stars that are already there, it's hardly noticeable -- and the second a bolder change. I like the circular star pattern, but I don't know if people in general would actually go for it.

2 comments:

  1. Aron Wall5:27 PM

    You'll notice though from the article that the main reason for the new result is that they changed they way they broke up the question.   First they voted for or against the status quo, and then they voted on alternatives.  If we assume that the 6% who want independence voted against the status quo, then by removing them from the 54%, it's quite plausible that a majority would in fact have voted against statehood, if it had been asked as a 3-way question as it had been in previous years (with status quo, statehood, and independence as the 3 options).

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  2. branemrys5:33 PM

    Such is the argument, anyway. We actually don't know the main reason for the difference; one of the problems of changing the questions is that we have nothing to compare it to. It is also the problem with referenda in general: you can always change the numbers by rephrasing the questions, and which is "the" way of phrasing the question, i.e., the way that most adequately characterizes the general mindset, isn't something that can be determined from the responses alone. If people definitely want the status quo to change but are uncertain how best to proceed, for instance, the three-way question will exaggerate the extent to which people are fine with the way things are, and also possibly exaggerate the extent to which they discount statehood as an option; if people want the status quo to change only if it does so in the direction of their favored alternative, the two-way question will exaggerate the extent to which people want change, and possibly exaggerate the extent to which they regard statehood as a genuine option; and of course this all assumes that people understood the questions and answered them in ways that correctly corresponded with their views.

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