Don't Forget the Ballot Initiatives—Barack Obama and John McCain Have Company Today

Controversial initiatives abound on today's ballots.

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Because the mainstream media have already declared Barack Obama the victor, the presidential race has become, well, less of a race and, therefore, less interesting to write about. Having spent the better part of the last few years writing this story, tonight's results will feel more like having a long-needed tooth pulled than popping a champagne cork. But then, I haven't spent two years raising money or knocking on doors or giving speeches as surrogates as many of my friends have. However, today's extensive voter turnout, high-energy attitude among Democrats, and long faces in the GOP camp signal what sure looks at this point as an Obama victory

The outcome seems less certain, however, for some of the more significant ballot initiatives that will be decided today.

I've already blogged about my personal favorite: California's Prop 2, which would make the miserable lives of factory-farmed animals somewhat less miserable.

But there are also some significant human-oriented measures that deserve more attention than they are receiving. Social wedge issues may be out of vogue in the presidential race, but they're still in fashion at the state level.

From the AP:

Some of the nation's most divisive social issues—gay marriage, abortion and affirmative action—went before voters Tuesday as 36 states passed judgment on ballot measures as well as candidates.

Of the 153 measures at stake, the most momentous was a proposed constitutional amendment in California that would limit marriage to heterosexual couples.

Similar measures have prevailed previously in 27 states, but none were in California's situation—with thousands of gay couples already married in the aftermath of a state Supreme Court ruling in May.

Most interesting among the social wedge issues are California's competing gay marriage initiatives. One would think forward-looking California would support gay marriage, but according to a recent Los Angeles Times poll, not so much:

While California voters remain closely divided on the question of gay marriage, a majority oppose a measure to ban it, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California.But the poll also found that support for Proposition 8, which would amend the state Constitution to disallow same-sex marriage, has gained somewhat since a similar survey was taken in late August. The latest results show 44% in favor and 52% opposed, with a margin of sampling error of 3 percentage points.

Then, there are the initiatives in Colorado and Nebraska for race- and gender-based affirmative action. California, Michigan, and Washington have already approved similar measures.

From the AP:

The movement's leader, California activist-businessman Ward Connerly, says the candidacies of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin prove blacks and women no longer need affirmative action.

Excuse me, Mr. Connelly, but I beg to differ. Assuming an Obama win Tuesday night, Mr. Connelly is right on whether African-Americans need racial preferences. But the hysterically insulting gender-based media bias against Senator Clinton proves the opposite as I have been saying all along.

Race bias is dying, but gender bias is alive and well.

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