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Good roads or bad, Proposal 1 hated equally across Michigan






The defeat of Proposal 1 left observers groping for appropriate language – wipeout, thumping and, perhaps inevitably, roadkill.

But this was no hyperbole.

Proposal 1, which would have raised the sales tax 17 percent while simultaneously changing the way fuel is taxed and making numerous other changes in state law and its constitution, wasn’t just rejected by voters, it was rejected with extreme prejudice. And the rejection bore no relation to road conditions in individual counties.

Proposal 1 lost in every one of Michigan’s 83 counties. In 62 of them, “no” votes exceeded 80 percent, with two (Gladwin and Arenac) over 90 percent. The strongest support came from Washtenaw County, where 35.4 percent voted in favor, which means it still lost there by nearly 2-1. And it lost, on average, by 86-14 in the six counties with highest percentage of roads ranked as “poor.”

Rejection of the roads measure also flouted political assumptions. It was crushed 81-19 in heavily Democratic Wayne County, where President Obama got his biggest victory in 2012. And it was defeated 77-23 in Ottawa County, the most Republican county in the state and where Gov. Rick Snyder – Proposal 1's biggest supporter – got his biggest win just a year ago.

The only glimmer of correlation between road quality and results – and it is a faint and perhaps surprising one – was in Kalamazoo, where roads are among the state’s best, and yet Proposal 1 got 32.7 percent “yes” votes, third-highest in the state.

These maps shade the state’s counties by road quality and voting results. Hover over each county to see how each voted and the condition of its roads.

Data presentations by Mike Wilkinson from various sources.

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