At the Bottom of the Ballot

In a year where the presidential race has practically consumed all of the oxygen, one question is what impact the predicted record turnout may have at the bottom of the ballot.


In a year where the presidential race has practically consumed all of the oxygen, one question is what impact the predicted record turnout may have at the bottom of the ballot. A grand total of 153 ballot measures will be decided by voters Tuesday, and control in a handful of state legislatures is also up for grabs.

 

Political consultant Ben Goddard, whose firm Goddard Claussen specializes in ballot initiatives, says traditionally, higher Democratic turnout means a better chance to defeat ballot questions that target social issues like abortion and gay marriage. But, this year he’s not so sure.

 

“Democrats aren’t just going to turn out more younger voters,” says Goddard, “they’re going to turn out more Reagan Democrats and blue-collar Democrats.” Those voters, he says, are likely to be more socially conservative and potentially help the cause of a handful of ballot questions that seek restrictions on things like gay marriage and abortion.

 

Another impact of this election cycle, notes Goddard, is that the increase in early voting means a big advantage to better funded initiative campaigns. If a campaign didn’t have the money to start messaging early with TV ads and direct mail, it likely missed the lion’s share of early voters.  

 

Some of the hotly contested ballot questions that will be decided Tuesday, (courtesy of stateline.org)…

 

California Prop 8: Would amend the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage.

 

South Dakota Measure 11: The measure would institute a ban on abortion, allowing exceptions only for the life of the mother, and in the case of rape or incest. 

 

Massachusetts Question 1: If passed, it would eliminate the state income tax.

 

Colorado Amendment 46: The amendment would prohibit the state from granting preferential treatment to anyone on the basis of sex, race, color, ethnicity or national origin. 

 

California Prop 4: If passed, it would prohibit abortion for minors until at least 48 hours after a parent or guardian was notified.

 

Arizona Prop 102: Would define marriage as between a man and a woman.

 

Stateline.org also has a great interactive map of all 153 ballot measures up Tuesday. And the National Conference of State Legislatures has a breakdown of key state legislative contests on its website. If you’re really a junkie, the site features an interactive map with real-time state legislative election results Tuesday night.

Shane D'Aprile is web editor at Politics magazine. sdaprile@politicsmagazine.com

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