Out of Control Policy Blog

How people voted on issues

Ballot initiatives around the country give us a look at how people reacted to issues rather than to politicians. It is a bizzare and mixed story.

Social conservatives won some major victories, but also lost some big ones as well:

--Discriminating against gays was very popular. California, Florida and Arizona all voted to ban gay marriage. And Arkansas voters passed a ban on gay couples adopting. But in Connecticut voters rejected a consititutional convention at which opponents of gay marriage hoped to get in a ban. Changing the state constitution to allow it to be changed to ban gay marriage.

Meanwhile "the majorities supporting the marijuana decriminalization measure in Massachusetts and the medical marijuana initiative in Michigan (65 percent and 63 percent, respectively) exceed the share of voters who went for Obama in each state (62 percent and 55 percent respectively). In those states at least, you could say marijuana reform has a bigger popular mandate than the president-elect."

Voters in AZ said no to forcing businesses to enforce immigration law. Indeed anti-immigrant politics seemed bust all over.

Measures to end affirmative action passed in Nebraska, and leads slightly in Colorado, though that one is still to close to call. At the same time ones to expand legal gambling passed in Colorado and Maryland.

On fiscal issues there are too many to cover. But Colorado voted down two tax increases despite turning blue. But a measure to end the state income tax in Massachusetts was crushed. A fair number of local sales taxes for transportation went down to defeat. In California voters deep sixed a couple of initiatives that would shovel tax money at alternative energy companies, but passed $12 billion in new bonds for high speed rail, children's hospitals, and veterans' home loans. This despite the fact that the state is broke, the budget is upside down, it is drowning in debt, the high speed rail is a ridiculous boondoggle, and the last two should be funded out of the budget, not debt.

Adrian Moore is Vice President, Policy


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