Sitting on a fat and sassy 67% to 29% lead, the backers of the embryonic stem cell research ballot proposal may be tempted to sit on their haunches. They do so at their own peril.
The anti-research side is first on the air with its initial batch of TV commercials designed to peck away at that 67% level of support, but the ads have nothing to do with the issue itself.
Ever since this issue came to life, the debate in the legislature has been about life. The proponents contend they want to save lives, cure deadly diseases, and improve the quality of life for everyone.
Led by the Michigan Catholic Conference and its partners at Michigan Right to Life, they have continually argued this research will destroy embryos and thus destroy life. They have also argued this research is just one sandwich away from human cloning.
So when the first ad hit the airwaves, everyone assumed the theme would be life and death.
It was money.
The spot contends if this research is approved, it will cost taxpayers more money. And as you see a guy shoveling stacks of dollar bills into a wheelbarrow, the ad suggests this has happened in other states, and it will leave a budget hole in Michigan, too.
What is going on here is pretty clear. The opponents have obviously focus grouped the life issue and found it to be a non-starter. Apparently too many voters would favor curing diseases. So the strategy is to ignore that and play on the public's distaste for spending more tax dollars.
Running the first commercial is allowing the anti-side to define the issue but rest assured with the Taubman family kicking in some bucks, the pro-research side will be on the air saying it not your money or your life…it's your life.