It sounded like a good idea at the time.
Get the proposed same-sex marriage constitutional amendment on the November ballot to drive up the Republican vote while driving Democrats out of office. The plan worked for President Bush two years ago, particularly in Ohio. So why wouldn't it do the same in Wisconsin this year, the GOP brass reasoned.
Welcome to the real world.
"The timing ended up backfiring," said U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Menomonee Falls Republican. "I think the opposite worked out this time."
The controversial amendment easily passed Tuesday, with Wisconsin voters approving the ban by 59% to 41%.
But the measure clearly had an unintended consequence by sparking a larger-than-expected turnout, especially among left-leaning college students, who flooded their campus polling places.
The result: Dems scored some unexpected gains in the Statehouse [...]
By putting the same-sex marriage and death penalty measures on the same ballot, Sensenbrenner said, Republican leaders in the Legislature ended up drawing the wrong type of voter to the polls - Democrats, especially conservative ones. Those people voted for the ballot proposals but against Republican candidates.
His proof: About 275,000 people cast ballots for the ban on same-sex marriages but not for Green.
What's more, he said, the Republican strategy gave opponents 1½ years to organize and raise millions of dollars.
"It was a lose-lose situation," Sensenbrenner said. "You had Reagan Democrats and socially conservative union members who wanted to vote yes and yes (on the referendums) and then voted for Doyle.
"And then you had liberals who voted no on both, then voted for Democrats."
We're more organized now. Put up your bullshit ballot initiatives, and you might pass them scoring some short-term battles (gay marriage bans will go the way of segregation within a generation). But you'll lose the war.