Yesterday’s Important Votes
Yesterday, Michael posted up a list of important ballot initiatives and elections to watch. Today, let’s recap what we know as of this writing (2 am EST) and what’s still out there.
Sixty/forty splits were the order of the day, with many initiatives being decided by that margin. Only a couple of races are close: a Washington state transportation tax initiative and control of the Virginia State Senate. We will be watching those through the day Wednesday, but the Virginia race in particular may not be decided for a week or more.
The title color indicates my best guess of whether the results favor the left (blue), the right (red), or neither/mixed (gray).
Recall State Senate President Russell Pearce
State Senate President Russell Pearce is the architect of Arizona’s controversial immigration reform measure, SB 1070 (the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act”). Pearce was challenged in a recall election by a more moderate Republican with the unfortunate name of Jerry Lewis. Lewis and other Pearce opponents charge he has been too absorbed in the immigration issue to focus on bills that would be more important to most Arizonans, such as jobs and education. Polling indicated a +3 margin for Lewis, within the margin of error of the poll.
Actual results had Lewis at +7, with 53% of the vote to Pearce’s 46%, a stunning defeat for a State Senator in a leadership position. Pearce conceded with controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio by his side.
In this case Lewis is far from “left”, but I’ve chosen a blue color to indicate a win for the moderate forces favoring a more balanced approach to immigration policy.
Democratic incumbent Steve Beshear ran against Republican David L. Williams and independent Gatewood Galbraith.
Pre-election Real Clear Politics aggregated polls had Beshear at 54%, Williams at 29%, and Galbraith at 9%. The actual election results favored Beshear by a 56/35/9 margin, or +21, not far from the +25 predicted by the aggregated polls.
Same Day Registration Veto Referendum
Last year, the Republican/Tea Party-dominated Maine legislature overturned a same-day voter registration system that had been in place in Maine since 1973. Maine Governor Paul LePage, a Republican favored by Tea Party supporters, signed this repeal of same-day voter registration into law.
The initiative, Question 1, gathered 71,000 signatures and was placed on the ballot. A “yes” vote was to reinstate the 1973 scheme of same-day voter registration. Polling suggested that the initiative would pass, but by a single-digit percentage.
Actual results showed the restoration of same-day voter registration passing by 60% “yes” on Question 1 to 40% “no”. This is a stunning repudiation of those who claim rampant voter fraud, and a reversal for Tea Party supporters in Maine politics.
This is the anti-abortion initiative, the so-called “personhood” amendment. Should it become law, “[t]he term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof,” according to the initiative.
This is one of those that seems simple on the surface, but probably has a bunch of lurking unintended consequences. The initiative may also violate the Mississippi state constitution, which prohibits the use of the initiative process to amend the Bill of Rights portion of the constitution.
Polls showed pretty much an even split between those in favor, and those opposed. The actual vote was not close: voters favored “no” on 26 by a 58% to 42% margin.
This is Mississippi’s voter disenfranchisement initiative, requiring a government-issued photographic identification. The Republican Party sponsored it, and it was almost guaranteed to pass. It’s not important as a bellwether; it’s important as another instance of voter disenfranchisement. It passed by about the same margin as 26 failed: 62% in favor, 38% opposed.
This is the initiative to repeal Ohio Senate Bill 5. SB5 was designed to limit the power of public employee unions in the state, by:
- limiting bargaining to wages and hours
- outlawing strikes
- shifting teachers to pay by performance
- cutting sick leave by 33%
- capping vacation leave
- eliminating union dues payment requirements
- giving the governing body final say over contract disputes, and
- prohibiting charter schools from collective bargaining
Confusingly, a “no” vote overturns the Senate bill and is seen as a reaffirmation of union rights, while a “yes” vote sustains the Ohio State Senate’s action.
The initiative was a strong repudiation of the State Senate action, which was supported by Governor Kasich and candidate Mitt Romney. Voters favored overturning SB 5 by a 63% to 37% margin. Importantly, the “no on 5″ initiative has helped to build an organization that will now turn to the re-election of President Obama in this critical bellwether state.
This initiative would exempt Ohio residents from the PPACA individual mandate. Ohio voters strongly supported Issue 3, with 66% voting “yes” (to exempt Ohioans from the mandate) and 34% voting “no”. The actual impact of the bill is likely to be limited, as Federal law trumps State law. However, it sends a strong message that voters are dissatisfied with the mandate provision of PPACA.
The two initiatives listed below are not nationally important, but they are interesting in the significant impact they will have on the future of Washington State.
This is the Tim Eyman initiative that targets the variable tolls added of late to the SR-520 and I-90 floating bridges across Lake Washington. If it passes, it will prohibit gas taxes and road tolls from being used for non-transportation purposes, require tolls to be set by the state legislature, prohibit tolls on one road from being used to fund another road, and prohibit tolls varied by the time of day.
The initiative is locked in a close race as of this writing, but looks to be defeated by a narrow margin. It is polling at 49% yes, 51% no statewide, with only a 40% yes proportion in King County, where it needed to run stronger.
This initiative would close the state-run liquor stores and allow for state licensing of private parties to sell alcohol. Washington state prohibits private parties from selling alcoholic beverages other than beer and wine.
A previous initiative on this subject failed, in part because of concerns of a decrease in the amount of state revenues. This version would therefore assess a 17 percent tax on all liquor sales.
Costco, based in Issaquah, Washington, (a suburb of Seattle) has been pushing for years for permission to sell hard liquor. Polling suggests that they may have gotten it right this time; a bare majority have pretty consistently been in favor of 1183.
Initiative 1183 has passed by an easy 60% “yes” to 40% “no” margin.
All in all, a good day for the blue team. Issues that caused liberals some angst (such as the Mississippi personhood amendment, the Maine same-day voter registration reinstatement, and the Ohio attempts at weakening unions) went down to crushing defeats. Moderates gained a surprise victory in the Arizona immigration fight.
The Ohio repudiation of the individual mandate and control of the Virginia State Senate are the only bright spots for the red team. Virginia State Senate control (at either 21D-19R or 20D-20R, with R Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling holding the tiebreaking vote) now hangs in the balance. The Republican challenger is 86 votes ahead in the critical District 17 race, with provisional ballots still uncounted. If the Republican wins, then the GOP will control both the House of Delegates and State Senate in Virginia. This may spell trouble for President Obama’s fortunes in this swing state.
- Author of Arizona immigration law faces recall vote (cnn.com)
- Tuesday’s Elections (lezgetreal.com)
- Secret donor bankrolling effort to repeal Maine voting rights (dailykos.com)
- Voters to choose 2 governors, decide ballot issues (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Election Day 2011 News Round Up (thedailywh.at)