Skip to main content


Back to Michigan Voter Proposal 3 post-mortem thoughts..................   I wasn't part of the Proposal 3 campaign so some might see this message as obnoxious Monday morning quarterbacking, but so be it.....strong medicine for all is warranted in my opinion.

I voted for Proposal 3 because the 25% renewables target as proposed state policy is part of responsible global greenhouse gas air pollution control stewardship, and is desirable and appropriate stewardship of Michigan natural resources, environmental protection and public health.

The voters said no in a most decisive way.

Here are the Proposal 3 vote totals:

Yea - 1,717,075  -  37.7%
Nay - 2,836,016  -   62.3%

Total -  4,553,091

Proposal 3 was decisively and resoundingly rejected with a margin over 1.1 million votes, in an almost 2 to 1 defeat.   Michigan Proposal 3 advocates got their ass kicked by the voters.

The Obama/Dem coalition in Michigan got 2,560,016 votes so it can be fairly assumed that the Proposal 3 campaign lost hundreds of thousands of voters in the Obama-Dem coalition that voted.  

Proposal 3 advocates should understand the defeat as a history lesson, as this is the
first time since 1970 and the modern environmental movement that Michigan
voters ever turned down an environmental ballot initiative, if my memory is correct.   The Proposal 3 defeat will also mean that it will be harder to pass such initiatives in the future.

When one loses a campaign that badly, the fact of the loss should trigger a major
amount of existential re-evaluation concerning all parts of the campaign management,
the proposal, the communication messages, campaign tactics and strategy.

The majority of voters found the Proposal 3 campaign unconvincing.

Proposal 3 advocates could not get enough voters in the Obama/Dem coalition to support Proposal 3.

Anti-Proposal 3 advocates were more successful than even the Obama/Dem coalition in
getting votes on a lower number of statewide total votes cast.

Please, Michigan renewable energy the face of this devastating rejection & loss, do not act like Republicans are now acting in confronting the reality of their loss to President Obama.  

If Proposal 3 camp wants to pin the loss on the constitutional issue, or voters mad at all the ballot propositions, or being outspent, I suppose those are probably important ways to look at the matter.

However, if Prop 3 camp can't see how and what their own campaign did was a proximate and direct cause of their own loss, then Michigan enviros risk a multi-year wandering in the desert of political irrelevance before they will ever see the light.  

From what I see, Proposal 3 leaders never really articulated the actual case for a 25% requirement for renewable electricity sales.   The Proposal 3 policy died on the vine because Prop 3 camp did not create a valid campaign for promoting the proposal, and Prop 3 camp never determined at the beginning what demographic and voter groups would be a winning coalition for voter identification and campaign purposes.  

Instead, Prop 3 camp tried to coal-bash its way to renewable energy, instead of creating and articulating the reason(s) why renewable energy projects should be encouraged and promoted on their own intrinsic merits through establishment of the 25% renewable criteria.

Proposal 3 camp never made a valid public case for Proposal 3.

Proposal 3 camp should have been in the stewardship business but they
forgot their stewardship responsibilities for creating, visualizing and promoting a conservation plan in the form of a series of specific renewable energy plans and proposals that would implement the 25% target requirements.  By failing to create
a renewable energy generation conservation plan of their own, Prop 3 advocates allowed the Anti-3 camp to define what the plan elements would be under Prop 3's own proposal.  

The Anti-3 camp defined and controlled the plan debate of Prop 3's own proposal in the
same way that President Obama defined Mitt Romney's business experience as vulture capitalism.

Prop 3 camp tried to create a central message that renewable energy generation facilites constructed after the passage of Proposal 3 could, should and would replace existing base load coal-fired electric plants that could then be retired.   The overwhelming problem with this Proposal 3 advocate position is that it isn't a responsible, technically feasible or accurate statement of proper electric utility generation facility and system stewardship.  

A global greenhouse gas air pollution control and Michigan natural resource, environment and public health steward cannot engage in misconduct, evasion of responsibility and erroneous findings involving the science of electric utility systems & operation engineering and electric utility generating resource engineering stewardship.

Just to spell this out very simply so everyone here can understand....Renewable energy generation projects involving wind and solar are not physical generation equivalents that can directly replace and otherwise substitute for fuel-fired base-load electric generation plants on an equivalent generating capacity basis in an electric utility generation system.    Wind and solar energy projects cannot provide electric utility
system-operator-initiated-decision-dispatchable generation capacity.   Wind and solar projects are self-generation-event-dispatched and the utility system operator must balance load and the generation status of fuel-fired generating resources elsewhere on the system to address such renewable generation events.

If you operate an electric utility and you are in the middle of an extended heat wave and in the middle of a peak demand period, there is a very good chance that most of your wind resource generation will be at a small fraction of capacity or at zero, just because light winds are likely to be persistent over large geographical areas.   This scenario alone should be enough to indicate that wind capacity can never be relied upon to solely replace fuel-fired baseload or peak load generation in its current configuration for purposes of electric utility system operation.  Solar generation holds much more promise for addressing the summer daytime peak demand problems of electric utilities than does wind energy.

All of the tremendous amounts of Prop 3 camp messaging, time, energy and
money that went into the killer coal plant meme was a complete waste of time, energy, money, visibility, credibility and political opportunity, and represented 100% un-forced Proposal 3 Camp campaign error.  

Why didn't Prop 3 camp see that the coal bashing campaign caught a serious case of the equivalent of "Clinton Fatigue"  [remember that?] with the voters early on when they saw their public poll standing on Prop 3 crashing?

All of the coal plant bashing was bad politics and bad optics that alienated a lot
of people.   All of the coal plant bashing damaged Prop 3's advocate's own credibility and the credibility of all organizations that supported Proposal 3.  All of the coal plant
bashing was inconsistent with the Prop 3 campaign's need for labor outreach.   All of the coal plant bashing was fear mongering not befitting the conduct of a steward of Michigan environment, natural resources and public health.   Proposal 3 camp never had any valid basis to say that Detroit Edison commits 44 homicides by coal-fired powerplant per year in the Delray section of SW Detroit and Proposal 3 advocates could never defend this claim or anything like it in court with what they had in hand during the campaign.  

Prop 3 campaigners succeeded in getting the International Brotherhood
of Electrical Workers (IBEW) against them.   Having that happen was an absolute
fatal error for the campaign -- a cup of hemlock for Proposal 3.   IBEW members have
similar political "street credibility" with the public that police, fire-fighters and
the military have as first responders.   IBEW workers are unquestionably understood in
a stewardship context in the matter of public questions concerning electric utility systems.  They said no to Proposal 3 and the public listened.   In my opinion, you cannot expect to ever enact a public referendum affecting electric utilities and utility worker jobs without having the active support of IBEW on your side.

While the Proposal 3 camp had some labor support from UAW, SEIU, AFSCME and a few others and such support was encouraging and welcomed, the Proposal 3 campaign
itself did not operate as an environmental-labor coalition in the way that was
needed to win.   The Proposal 3 campaign did not function as a labor coalition because
union labor coalitions in Michigan cannot leave out ALL of the unions on the building and construction trades side of the Michigan AFL-CIO and also leave out the Steelworkers union and then expect to get much of anything done as a labor coalition.

Proposal 3 advocates and Michigan environmentalists have a full plate of things to think about and change, and suggestions on these will be the subject of future DK diaries and Enviro-Mich posts.

Originally posted to LakeSuperior on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 04:43 PM PST.

Also republished by Kosowatt.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  My mom, a Michigander, voted no. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LakeSuperior, CoExistNow, Lujane, koNko

    She voted no on all the amendments because she said she couldn't figure out the truth among all the ads.  Since I don't live in Michigan anymore, I didn't know enough to offer her any guidance.

  •  Michael Moore opposed it. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, Karl Rover, koNko

    I didn't study it too carefully, but he was advocating a NO vote because it counted biomass = clearcutting forests to burn as renewable energy.  I'd say that future initiatives needs to be crafted more carefully so as not to split people who support a cleaner environment.

  •  I think the problem was the state Constitution (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, leaf63, Odysseus, Meteor Blades

    Specifically, the language of the law would automatically put it there.  I think a lot of people thought that the rules themselves were pretty good, but they didn't want them automatically enshrined in the state Constitution.

    Tom Smith Online
    I want a leader who shoots for the moon. The last time we had one, we got to the moon.

    by filkertom on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 05:36:19 PM PST

    •  I agree - many of the people I discussed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lujane, filkertom

      this with were most convinced by those ads that did not want any of the ballot proposals attached as amendments to the state Constitution, even if they supported the idea behind them.  

      Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. - Einstein

      by moose67 on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 05:42:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Campaign erred on that as well (0+ / 0-)

      There were two ways to do this....either by amendment to the Michigan Constitution, or by voter petition for referendum on adoption of legislation.  

      Proposal 3 advocates didn't chose the latter course because they were afraid of the Legislature messing with any voter win.   Was this realistic?   Maybe or maybe not.

    •  Yes! This was a huge issue... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LakeSuperior, Meteor Blades

      ...and not just for Prop 3. Nearly everyone I know was confused about the proposals, didn't know which would result in constitutional amendments, and felt finding reliable information was challenging. I ended up supporting Prop 3, but LakeSuperior's point really resonates with me -- the Prop 3 camp did more to define what the proposal wasn't than what it was. It's definitely a good conversation to have!

  •  There was a more general argument (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    The list of proposals was daunting. My spouse and I looked for good analysis on the web--hard to find. Meanwhile, a general set of ads said: "Just vote no on everything. Don't mess with the Constitution." A significant group of folks just voted "no" on all of them in disgust.

  •  Let's not forget DTE (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, jennifree2bme

    DTE equated Prop 3 with a $12 billion tax increase.  DTE and their ilk spent far more money opposing it than there was in support of the initiative.

  •  Most people voted against all the proposals (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    There was not consistent support for any of the progressive proposals.  You had labor leaders for, against, and abstaining  on Prop 3 and Prop 6, depending on which group of workers they represented.  Voters were confused, suspicious of motives, and IMHO, threw up their hands and said no to everything.

  •  Pro Prop 3 campaign (0+ / 0-)

    did a piss-poor job of refuting the Anti campaign's claims.

    ************************************************* "Stifling an urge to dance is bad for your health — it rusts your spirit and your hips." - Terri Guillemets

    by BitterEnvy on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 07:01:31 AM PST

  •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

    Our local OFA was suggesting the following positions:
    1) NO      (emergency managers)
    2) YES      (collective bargaining)
    3) Voter's choice      (renewable energy)
    4) YES      (health care worker collective bargaining)
    5) NO      (2/3 majority on taxes)
    6) Voter's choice      (must vote for new bridges)

    I don't know why #s 3 and 6 didn't have support. I spoke to a ton of persuadables who wanted guidance on the proposals. I always gave my feelings on renewable energy and the bridge with the caveat that it was my personal opinion. I'm not sure if that held as much sway as if it were the official stance.

    Weathering Michigan's recessions since the '70s.

    by jennifree2bme on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 01:19:31 PM PST

    •  The reason OFA did that was precisely because (0+ / 0-)

      Proposal 3 advocates did not have anything close to a labor-wide consensus support position.

      And just as bad, enviros and Prop 3 advocates were missing from the action on Proposal 6.....Where were the enviros when the iron workers and millwrights and other union workers were trying to get the Detroit International Bridge built by defeating Proposal 6?  Missing from the action.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site