Last month, I took State Senator Jim Dabakis to task over the tired “Utah is gerrymandered” trope that he continues to perpetuate. Today a former chair of RepresentMeUtah, Kelli Lundgren, attempted to call me out as being completely wrong. At least, I assume she did. She linked to my piece but refers to a “Jesse Feller”, someone I’ve never heard of. If only the sloppy attempt at rebuttal ended at directing the argument at the wrong person.
One of the most common problems in the piece is a refusal to name names. “Republican leaders”. “Selected Democrats”. “One Republican House member”. Is it really so hard to tell us who said or did these things? If she did, we could then go to primary sources to validate the claims. By hiding the sources behind anonymized titles, there’s no way to verify that any of these statements is true at all.
That’s another problem here: no citation of sources. In fact, the only link in the entire piece is back to my own article. Kelli couldn’t even be bothered to link to the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News articles she calls as support for her arguments. Heck, she can’t even remember if one of the articles she claims in support even exists in the first place, but she’s pretty sure it did so, sure, let’s go ahead and cite it. If that’s the standard of evidence we’re going to use for supporting our arguments, I think we’ve reached peak Internet.
Kelli also claims that the only reason Democrats could have possibly voted in favor of the redistricting maps is because they were bullied by Republicans in the Legislature. But, again, we have no names named, no specific incidences called out, and nothing more than innuendo that plays right into existing biases. “Just trust me” seems to be the theme of this response given the complete lack of verifiable facts.
But hey, there’s at least one claim that can be proven or disproven: her statement that independents are the largest voting block in the state. Unfortunately for Kelli, a very quick trip to the state elections website shows that’s completely and totally false. Republicans are still the largest voting block in the state and their lead only grows when you count active voters that participated at least once in the last two general elections. At this point, I can’t say that I’m surprised that the one of the few facts that can be checked ends up being, well, not a fact.
But what of the claim that Democrats get most of their votes from independents? Breaking down the numbers in the 2012 election (when we last had a good sample size) shows that independents appear to split about 50/50 between Republican and Democratic candidates in statewide races. Democrats appear to get about 2/3 of their total votes from independents whereas Republicans get about 40% of their votes from that group. Of course, there’s no way to know for sure how independents are voting as a block since the state doesn’t provide data on how each group votes (hey, are you seeing a pattern here too?), but the best guess from what data we do have doesn’t suggest at all that independents are overwhelmingly disgusted with the majority.
This is the kind of thing you write when you’re really angry and wince at when you read it the next morning. Ms. Lundgren doesn’t do her side any favors in her poorly-sourced rant.