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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Prop. 8 and Other Ballot Initiatives

Another good election night resource is a guide published yesterday by The American Prospect. Among its virtues is a section on ballot initiatives written by Dana Goldstein.
As Dana notes, there are two ballot initiatives on the subject of abortion. One, in CO, is so extreme an abortion ban that even cultural conservatives are divided on it; it won’t pass. But another, in SD, is a revised version of the abortion ban statute overturned by a ballot intiative two years ago. It incorporates some of the exceptions whose absence was the centerpiece of the successful campaign to repeal the earlier ban. And polls show a very close vote is likely. It’s mainly symbolic until such time, if ever, that Roe v. Wade is overturned. But it could be a dress rehearsal for what we’ll see across the nation if Roe ever does succumb to a slightly more conservative Supreme Court.
Other ballot initiatives include two (in CO and NE) representing Ward Conerly’s endless franchise operation aimed at banning affirmative action programs. And there are even, believe it or not, some progressive ballot initiatives, including a clean energy mandate in MO, and an animal cruelty ban in CA.
But as always in recent years, the biggest ballot initiative topic is on gay marriage. In AZ, in a parallel development to the abortion ban in SD, conservatives lost a ballot initiative in 2006 because its gay marriage ban would have also denied domestic partnership rights for gay and straight couples alike. Today’s initiative sticks to gay marriage, and may well pass. And in FL, a ban on both gay marriage and domestic partnerships appears to have majority support, but may well fail since the state constitution requires a 60% vote.
The huge ballot initiative fight, of course, is over California’s Proposition 8, aimed at reversing the state supreme court decision that legalized gay marriage in that state. Richard Kim has a good summary of that fight in The Nation today. Here’s a sample:

Right now, polls show the measure as a toss-up. The money is dead even too. When all is said and done, both sides will have raised more than $35 million each–more than $70 million in all–making it the second most expensive race of 2008, second only to the presidency. A sizable minority of this money has come from out of state: from gay activists, celebrities and business leaders on the No side; and from the holy alliance of Mormons, Catholics (the Knights of Columbus) and Christian evangelicals (Focus on the Family, American Family Association, Concerned Women for America and Elsa Prince, mother of Blackwater founder Erik Prince) for the Yes team. As California goes, so goes the nation.

We’ll see about that, but in any event, if the presidential race is called early, and you get bored with congressional results, keep a sleepy eye on the Prop. 8 results.

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