Political reform. In California, the big longshot -- redistricting reform, which has a near perfect record of losing at the ballot -- came in. Prop 11, which strips the legislature of the right to draw state legislative districts (Congressional districts were exempted) -- passed. It's a stunning win (and one your blogger predicted would not happen). This redistricting measure is a modest reform, but the victory suggests that political reform on the ballot may be possible -- at least if there isn't much of a campaign against it. Look for future measures on open primary and perhaps other reforms. And in Colorado, Prop 54 -- which had little money and faced a huge, expensive, labor campaign againts it -- also appears to have scored a triumph. The measure is a tight ban on "pay to play." If a company or union has a contract with the government, it can't give money. Labor leaders here in Denver last night say they will challenge it in court.
The initiative process. Voters turned down the greatest in the country to the initiative process, Arizona's "majority rules" measure, which would have established a near impossible standard for passing an initiative: a majority of all the state's registered voters (not just the voters who show up on election day). Measure O, a legislative referendum to make it more difficult to qualify an initiative to change the state constitution, also went down.
Farm animals. On a crowded California ballot, Prop 2, an initiative to regulate how farm animals are treated, passed overwhelmingly. The initiative's sponsor, the Humane Society of the United States, is all but certain to qualify similar measures in other initiative states.
Marriage equality. Bans on same-sex marriage passed in Arizona, Florida, and, most disappointingly in California. The bans likely will be challenged in court, and in California, there may be a chance of overturning it. A 4-3 majority of California Supreme Court said there was a constitutional right to such unions back in May. There needs to be some real soul-searching about how the No on 8 effort was conducted. The no effort appeared to be well ahead in the polls a few months out, but lost ground with a confusing campaign that also seemed to antagonize religious people.
The pro-life movement. Attempts to restrict abortion went down to defeat in California, Colorado and South Dakota.
Billionaires. Peter Sperling and T. Boone Pickens poured big money (well at least big money for the rest of us) into poipular sounding renewable energy initiatives in California: Props 7 and 10. But both went down to defeat, badly.
Affirmative action. A ban on affirmative action, one of two initiatives backed by Californian Ward Connerly to make a state ballot, won in Nebraska. A similar measure trailed narrowly in Colorado. The race is so close there could be a recount.