Recently, the big guys opposing Prop. 37 started pouring their millions into television ads in an effort to sway public opinion and defeat the measure. Up until the ads started running, all polls led to an overwhelming win for the labeling law. Now the gap has tightened up. The latest polls say that support has declined in the last two weeks, from 66.9 % to 48.3%. Opposition has gone from 22.3% to 40.2%.
Since the campaign for labeling began over a year ago, the proponents were out there spreading their message pretty much without any major opposition from the corporate side. They overwhelmingly had the public on their side. Just a few months ago the polls said this referendum would skate to victory. Then the money by the opposition started being spent.
It was a brilliant tactical move. They waited until crunch time to shoot their wad and it has had an effect. This is a classic example of tactical politics. While the “grassroots” liberal/left with their worldview were getting all the press, they failed to assess why they weren’t facing strong opposition. They were lulled into a false sense of security by the poll numbers.
How has the support campaign reacted to this nosedive in support? Have they countered with their own “facts?” Nope, they’ve attacked the messenger rather than the message. No side spokespeople are called out for any real, imagined or tenuous connection to industry. Very rarely has the Yes side taken issue with the substance of what is being said.
The latest bogeyman in the fight is Henry Miller of the rightist Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is featured in one their ads. The No side tried to slip one by people by making it seem that Miller was a faculty member of Stanford and used university buildings as a backdrop. Supporters complained and Stanford listened issuing a statement that took issue with the hustle. The ad has since been revamped.
Not satisfied with the retraction and revamped ad, the Yes campaign has filed a complaint with the Feds claiming fraudulent advertising activities. They are also upset at the fact that Miller is, according to the L.A. Times, listed in the “state’s official voter guide…as a senior official with the FDA when in fact he does not work at FDA… The anti-proposition ballot argument signed by Miller, a medical doctor, identifies himself as “founding director of the Office of Biotechnology Food & Drug Administration.”
Well, it is true that he is not a senior official with the FDA, but he did in fact, work for the FDA for 15 years and he was the founder of the Office of Biotechnology Food & Drug Administration. I haven’t seen a hard copy of the Voter’s guide but the online version says that Miller is the Founding Director, Office of Biotechnology of the Food & Drug Administration. I don’t know if that has been changed since the complaints
Undoubtedly, the massive spending frenzy by the corporate side has had an effect, but how much of an effect? For over a year the Yes campaign had unfettered access to the public. It seems the minute the No campaign weighed in, that support ebbed. You can say it’s due to the cash influx, but perhaps it goes deeper than that.
As I wrote above, the Yes campaign seems to be concentrating on who the opposition is rather than what they are saying. They expect the public to react with the same mindset as them. That’s a huge mistake. They spend too much time screaming dirty pool rather than responding substantively. Campaign manager Gary Ruskin told the L.A. Times the opposition was “running a campaign of lies, deceit and trickery.”
That one got me. If you look at the text of the law itself as I did in a July post, California GMO labeling law: Bad science, crackpots and hucksters you will see that it’s a mess of inaccuracy.
I don’t know how representative comment sections of media websites are of the supporter mindset, but you see this shoot the messenger mindset all over the place. If a media website publishes an article that dares take issue and contradict any of the claims of the Yes side, you will see tons of comments suggesting or accusing them of being on Monsanto’s payroll. It is also true of commenters who dare contradict the posts of supporters. I can attest to that and so can anyone who has waded into those pits. We’re accused of being “Monsanto shills” and apparently we too are on the payroll. You rarely get a cogent, reasoned response.
The initiative may still win despite the free fall and if it does win, then the real fun will begin. The law will be challenged in court and then in the end, lawyers will get rich. Oh, and if the courts do throw out the law, you can except the response from the anti-GMO side to be, “The judges were bought off by Monsanto.”