The results are still being counted, but Republicans “obviously” had a good night, as even Obama conceded. In the Senate, in the House, and in state houses across the country.
Some point to various ballot measures around the country to demonstrate either the electorate’s hidden liberalism, or its evident confusion.
Big money was a boon to groups fighting for and against ballot measures across the states on Election Day.
In 21 of the top 25 most expensive state ballot measure races in terms of television ad spending, groups that won the war on the airwaves also won at the ballot box, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of unofficial election results and preliminary data from media tracking service Kantar Media/CMAG.
But surprising upsets also showed that in the wild world of direct democracy, money isn’t everything.
“The relationship is more complicated than just ‘spending more [means] having greater success.’ There are a lot of other factors in terms of the electoral environment,” said Daniel Smith, a University of Florida professor and expert on such initiatives. “Ballot measures generally are easier to defeat than to pass.”
That’s by way of background. Defeat is easier than passing, and big money is a big decider.
Here’s a rundown of the major ballot measure results:
Abortion. Coloradans rejected a measure, for the third time in recent years, seeking to grant “personhood” to the unborn. North Dakota similarly rebuffed an amendment to insert into the state’s constitution “the inalienable right to life of every human being at every stage of development.” In Tennessee, however, voters approved new legislative power to regulate abortion, which opponents fear will result in limits on women’s access to the procedure.
Marijuana. Measures to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by adults passed in Oregon and the District of Columbia and appeared on track for passage in Alaska as well. (In the case of Washington, D.C., though, Congress has review power to block the move.) Oregon and Alaska would follow the example of Colorado and Washington State in setting up systems for regulating and taxing retail sales of marijuana. In Florida, a measure dealing with the medicinal use of marijuana fell short of the 60 percent approval needed to pass.
Minimum wage. Voters in four Republican-leaning states approved increases in their minimum wage at a time when Republicans in Congress have resisted boosting the federal minimum from $7.25 per hour. The states are Alaska (to $9.75 by 2016), Arkansas (to $8.50 by 2017), Nebraska (to $9 by 2016), and South Dakota (to $8.50 by 2015). The California cities of San Francisco and Oakland also voted to boost base-level pay.
Guns. Washington State voters approved a measure to expand background checks to private transactions and many loans and gifts. Dan Gross of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence hailed the vote as a symbolic victory in a nation where the public “supports expanding background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other dangerous people.” According to the group, seven states will now require checks on all gun sales, up from two before the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.
Food labeling. Colorado voters rejected a measure that would have required labels to help consumers identify foods with genetically modified organisms. Opponents of the labeling requirements, including food corporations and biotech firms, argue that GMO foods are safe and that the labeling would create undue costs, open the door to lawsuits over labels, and put an implicit stigma on GMO foods. A similar measure in Oregon was too close to call at press time.
Schools. Missouri rejected a constitutional amendment to reform teacher tenure in public schools. It would have made it easier for teachers to be fired and would have required teachers to be evaluated in large measure based on student outcomes.
Gambling. Voters in Massachusetts were in favor of casino plans that are already on track, defeating a measure to pull out before the ventures launch. Rhode Island and Colorado rejected measures to expand gambling.
Hunting. In Maine, voters narrowly rejected a measure to ban the use of bait, dogs, and traps in hunting bears. Animal-rights advocates argued the methods were cruel and unsporting. Mississippi joined other states that have, mostly in the past two decades, enshrined a right to hunt and fish in their constitutions.
Taxes. Georgia voters supported a constitutional amendment to cap their income tax rate. Massachusetts voted to end gas-tax hikes that kick in automatically with inflation. Illinois voters gave an advisory thumbs up to the idea of a 3 percent surtax on income over $1 million to help fund education.
Not as much of a wave as the Republican monster, but on abortion, dope, taxes, the people mostly wanted less government involvement. Not true of Washington state on guns, of course, but the Sea-Tac metro area is reliably left wing (and anyway gun checks are not inherently wrong). Even the votes in favor of the minimum wage were underwhelming, as they all fell well below the $10.10 rate most libs want to impose. (I have gone on record as not opposed to a minimum wage hike, but purely on political grounds. I know it will cost jobs, but if opposing it costs votes, what’s the point? If people want fewer jobs, Senator BTL would like to keep his, thank you very much.)
No, I don’t see much evidence of liberalism, except where liberalism and libertarianism overlap. But if Republicans govern as the party to stop government encroachment (in ObamaCare, spending, amnesty for illegals, etc.), I think they will continue to reap the rewards of what Obama hath wrought.