Archive for November 9th, 2010

Those Darned Ballot Initiatives II

A final word on 60, 61, and 101.  They violated two basic rules of drawing political lines – 1) create contrasts, and 2) make sure that more people are on your side of that contrast.  These were written in such a way that even true fiscal conservatives didn’t believe they could support them.  Which meant that not only didn’t they get passed, they passed up an opportunity to let the Republican candidates define differences between themselves and their opponents.

In the Wall Street Journal:

The ballot measures mirror tea-party goals. So Natalie Menten, who runs the proponents’ campaign, expected lots of help from the movement.

She didn’t get it.

A large majority of Colorado’s elected officials, both Republicans and Democrats, have urged voters to reject the measures as too extreme. The opposition raised millions from businesses and unions for ads warning that the measures would kill jobs and strip funding from schools, roads and prisons.

In the face of such forceful opposition, many tea-party activists stepped aside to focus on other priorities, such as state legislative races.

“It does disappoint me,” Ms. Menten said. “It tells me they want to go out to the capitol and hold up a sign” but not take real action.

No.  They took real action.  They got involved in campaigns they believed they could win.

Now, look at what happened in Arizona.  Two years ago, they rejected (barely) a ballot initiative that would have made sure that people could always purchase their own health care.  This year, they passed an Amendment 63 look-alike.

Here’s an idea.  Two years ago, we barely killed a right-to-work initiative, and an initiative to get rid of affirmative action in public hiring and contracting.  This year, we came within a few points of neutralizing Obamacare here.

Why not take a page from the lefty handbook, and try these again?  Better yet, why not think about how the initiatives will help get people elected by clarifying differences, coordinating ballot initiatives with electoral politics, rather than falling in love with whatever new idea we come up with in the interim?

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How Bad Was the West, Really?

Conventional wisdom right now is that the West was excluded from the Republicans’ big gains in the rest of the country.  And by a certain standard, that’s true.  Not too many people would have guessed that the state legislatures in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan would go Republican, with the latter two also electing Republican governors.  The West didn’t see any such seismic shift (apologies to those living in rift valleys and on fault lines).  But the Republican gains, outside of California, were still pretty substantial.

Consider that in the 10 non-California western states (Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona), the count in the US Congress went from 27-15 Democrat to 23-19 Republican, a net gain of 8 seats out of 42.  The Republicans also picked up two governorships (Wyoming and New Mexico).

The gains in state legislatures were also significant, although in some cases, merely amounted to pushing the Democrats closer to extinction:

  • In Washington, the state Senate went from 31-18 Democrat to 24-22 Democrat, with 3 seats undecided
  • In Oregon, the House went from 36-24 Democrat to 30-30, and the Senate went from 18-12 Democrat to 15-13 with 2 undecided.  Imagine a state legislature not merely split, but with both houses evenly divided.
  • David Sirota, phone home.  Montana went from 50-50 to 68-32 Republican, although the State Senate saw only modest gains, from 27-23 Republican to 28-22.
  • In Arizona, the State House went from 35-25 to 40-20 and the State Senate from 18-11 to 21-9
  • In Colorado, as we know, the Republicans recaptured the State House
  • In New Mexico, the Republicans cut into the Democrats’ lead, moving it from 45-25 to 37-33, and putting pressure on the Democrat majority to negotiate with the newly-elected Republican governor.  The State Senate remains firmly in Democrat hands, 27-15.
  • And in Idaho, where Labrador retrieved CD-1 for the Republicans, the State House went from a lopsided 52-18 to an even-more lopsided 57-13; the State Senate stands at 28-7

This is hardly the stuff of Democrat strangleholds, or even strongholds.

And a look at the ballot initiatives gives even more hope.

  • In Nevada, a proposal to weaken eminent domain protections went down by better than 2-1
  • In Washington, the initiative losses of 2009 were redeemed, as voters rejected a state income tax (34.6% in favor), repealed a series of state sales tax increases (62.4%), and restated existing law (suspended by the state legislature) requiring 2/3 legislative majorities or voter approval for tax increases
  • Both Utah and Arizona passed laws requiring secret ballots for union elections
  • Arizona passed a law similar to one that it had narrowly rejected two years ago, and similar to our own Amendment 63 (55-45)
  • Arizona also eliminated affirmative action in public hiring or contracting (60-40)

California, as always, with its 46% Democrat registration, remains problematic.  But unless you expect it to become a net exporter of political ideas, along with jobs and population, the biggest threat from California isn’t contamination so much as default.

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