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California state capitol

At this point, you've probably completely reached the saturation point on knowing which way the presidential race is tipping in the key states. If you're paying close attention, you know how the U.S. Senate is going to shake out, what's going on this year's few gubernatorial races, and likely even know what's happening in the U.S. House. However, even if you're a political junkie, you've probably heard very little about the races that may well have the biggest impact on your day-to-day lives: the realm of state legislatures and ballot measures (and that likely goes double for legislatures and initiatives outside your own state).

2012 isn't going to be as momentous a year for electing state legislatures as 2010 was—that was the year that it got decided who had control of the process of redistricting the U.S. House, and unfortunately, that was also the year that the Republicans took control of a number of legislative chambers. State legislatures, however, are still often the laboratory for new policy innovation (much more so than the increasingly paralyzed Congress), and they're also critically important because they're the party's bench of future contenders for higher office. Handicappers tend to see the 2012 state legislative picture as something as a wash, with the parties poised to trade a few chambers back and forth (not a surprising outcome in a non-wave, nuts-and-bolts election that also is poised to be close but preserve the status quo at the national level too).

Not every state allows the initiative process, but in those that do, some of the most momentous changes come that way (for better and worse). For instance, it's hard to imagine any state's legislature opting to legalize and regulate marijuana—yet that's exactly what might happen in three states this year (Colorado, Oregon and Washington) thanks to the initiative process. Even in states where there's no initiative process, legislatively referred constitutional amendments can still put fundamentals questions of governance before the voters.

With that in mind, over the fold we're going to preview some of the most competitive state legislative battlegrounds, and some of the biggest statewide ballot measures. This list isn't exhaustive. If your state isn't included, it doesn't mean we're ignoring it; it just means that each legislative chamber is likely to stay in the hands of the majority party and that it's not home to one of the most hot-button ballot measures. Please feel free to chip in in the comments and talk more about what's going on in your state; the national press spends little time on this realm—especially the individual swing-district races that might decide the outcome in competitive legislatures—so any local color you can provide will help flesh out the picture for all of us.

(Continue reading below the fold.)

ALABAMA: Most of Alabama's legislatively referred ballot questions are small-bore, but one potentially-interesting one is the vote on whether to prohibit "mandatory participation in any health care system." In other words, it's an attempt to undercut (some might say "nullify") the Affordable Care Act; it's a little ignorant of, well, the basic legal relationship between the federal and state governments, but it should help keep the ACA entangled in the courts for years to come. Similar measures are on the ballot in Florida and Wyoming this year. Alabama's Republican-controlled state legislature isn't up for reelection this year.

ALASKA: Alaska's state House is pretty firmly in Republican hands, but the Alaska's state Senate is a highly unusual case. The Senate is divided between 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans, but functionally it's controlled by a coalition of Democrats and establishment Republicans, with a handful of tea partying and/or social conservative GOPers forming the minority. Outside Republican groups are making a strong push to pick off a couple Democrats this year, helped along by redistricting and population growth in conservative areas. The real question, though, if Republicans break the tie, is if the Republicans can coalesce into one caucus, or if the coalition holds as pro-public-works Republicans (in this most public-works-dependent state) decide to keep casting their lot with the Democrats.

ARIZONA: Arizona's state legislature is likely to stay in Republican hands, after they made significant gains in 2010, though the Democrats will probably gain seats. There's one potentially big change to the way Arizona conducts elections, though: There's an initiative on the ballot to switch to the same "Top Two" primary system used in Washington and California (and, presumably, to the same chaos that the new system has engendered in California).

ARKANSAS: Arkansas has not one but two initiatives on the ballot proposing casino gambling as a fix to the state's economic woes. The real woes, however, may be at the state legislative level, where the state's increasingly reddish hue may finally turn the state's Democratic-since-the-dawn-of-time legislature over to the Republicans. The margins have slowly been getting closer over the years (Democrats control the Senate 20-15 and the House 54-46), and now the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity is putting a lot of money into the state to get it over the top. Handicappers have slotted in both chambers as "Lean Republican."

CALIFORNIA: One of the most important state legislative fights is in California, but it's certainly not because Democratic majorities are at stake in either chamber. Far from it: The question is whether the Democrats (who control the Senate 25-15 and the Assembly 52-28) can get over the magic two-thirds mark. That's because California has an absurd two-thirds requirement for important fiscal legislation, allowing the GOP minority to tie the legislature in knots and keep the state from raising the revenue it needs. Thanks to redistricting, the 2/3rds mark seems likely in the Senate, but not that likely in the Assembly.

California—always the nation's leader in governance by initiative (or some might say "paralysis by initiative")—also has a slew of important ballot measures, including two tax competing tax increases designed to improve K-12 funding. Polls indicate Prop 30 (Jerry Brown's preferred measure, which raises taxes on top-tier incomes) is narrowly passing, while the Molly Munger-backed Prop 38 (which casts a much broader taxing net) is failing by a wide margin. Polls have also shown that Prop 36, which would reform the state's ineffective "three strikes" law, is passing, while Prop 34 (which would end the death penalty) and Prop 37 (which sets standards for labeling of genetically modified food) look too close to call. Prop 32 is a measure that at first glance sounds good ("ban on corporate and union contributions to local and state political candidates"), but it's a trojan horse: The net result would be to hamper unions from spending money on elections, and thanks to strong union opposition, the measure seems to be narrowly failing.

COLORADO: One of the most closely divided state legislative chambers in the nation is Colorado's House, which the GOP picked up in 2010 and control 33-32. This will go down to the wire, though observers are optimistic about a Democratic pickup here. (The Senate is expected to stay in Democratic hands.) There's also a marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot—not medical marijuana, but a full-blown legalization for recreational use along with creation of a state regulatory system—which according to polling is poised to pass. (What that means, in terms of how much the federal government will keep hands off the state system, is anybody's guess, but it's certainly an important step.)

FLORIDA: You might think Florida's status as pre-eminent swing state means that the legislature is up for grabs this year, but that's not likely. The Republicans control the Senate 28-12 and the House 81-39. The state's 2010 Fair Districts initiative has undone some of the worst of the egregious gerrymandering that allowed the GOP to run up numbers like that during the previous decade, meaning that Democratic gains are likely, but retaking the majorities right away seems a bridge too far.

HAWAII: Hawaii might be worth watching if only to see if the Democrats can convert their 24-1 edge in the State Senate into a 25-0 advantage.

IOWA: One of the state legislative chambers that's on a knife's edge is the Iowa State Senate, where the Democrats are in control 26-24. This is one of the biggest Tossups in the whole country, though redistricting might have benefited the Democrats a bit here. The state House is controlled 60-40 by Republicans and unlikely to flip back, so with a Republican governor for at least two more years, holding that Senate majority is the one bulwark against giving the GOP one more state-level trifecta.

KENTUCKY: You might be surprised to hear that the Democrats are still in control of one chamber of their legislature, holding the House 59-41. (The Senate is pretty firmly GOP, 22-15.) Kentucky is one southern state, though, where ancestral Democratic tendencies still are strong at the state level, even when not at the presidential level. Given the state's reddish hue, though, prognosticators have slotted the state House in as one to watch, at "Lean Democratic."

MAINE: Maine is home to one of the most closely watched ballot measures in the country: The question as to whether to overturn a previous ban on same-sex marriage. Maine notoriously passed a statewide ban on gay marriage in 2009, and it looks like the state is poised to undo that, as a PPP poll from this weekend has the measure passing 52-45. (That's still cause for concern because it's a topic where undecideds tend to break against—as you'll remember from 2009 polling—but if it's over 50 percent, that bodes well.)

Maine was also scene of one of the unlikeliest GOP legislative takeovers in 2010; given the narrowness of their majorities (19-15 in the Senate, 78-72 in the House) and the state's bluish tint, we may see both flip back this year. Prognosticators have these chambers at either "Tossup" or "Lean Democratic."

MARYLAND: Maryland doesn't have an initiative process, but it does have a people's veto referendum process, and thanks to that, it has three big ballot measures this year, trying to undo legislative actions. The biggest one is same-sex marriage, which was approved by the legislature this year; most previous polling has shown the measure passing by a decent margin, but the most recent poll, from the Baltimore Sun, had the measure failing 47-46. The tightening in the race may be attributable to a late surge of outside money into the race, targeting African-American voters in particular. Voters are also being asked to approve the legislature's state-level DREAM Act and their heavily gerrymandered (if strongly pro-Democratic) U.S. House map, both of which are narrowly passing. (Maryland's legislature isn't up for election this year, though its Democratic supermajorities are big enough that it wouldn't be an issue anyway.)

MASSACHUSETTS: Massachusetts has two interesting initiatives on the ballot this year, though given the state's strongly liberal status, it's surprising that these haven't already been enacted years ago. The measures would allow physician-assisted suicide and use of medical marijuana. (The Democrats' crushing legislative majorities should easily stay in place this year.)

MICHIGAN: Michigan doesn't have any ballot measures on hot-button cultural issues, but it does have some of the nation's highest-profile measures as far as labor (and good governance) is concerned. At the top of the list is a veto referendum that would rein in the state's controversial "emergency manager" provision, that allows the state government to take over municipalities and school districts in financial distress. Recent polling indicates that the provision is likely to be struck down.

However, that same poll also predicts defeat for two good initiatives, one of which would guarantee collective bargaining rights for both public and private sector workers, the other of which would require that 25 percent of the state's electricity be generated by renewable sources by 2025. Other measures on the ballot include a measure requiring a California-style 2/3rds majority in the legislature to raise taxes, and a measure requiring a public vote before building a new Detroit-Windsor bridge. (Only the state House—not the Senate—is up for a vote this year, and the GOP edge there, 63-47, is large enough that it's not likely to flip back this year.)

MINNESOTA: Minnesota has one of the four same-sex marriage measures, but unlike the others, this one is referred from a Republican-controlled legislature and is phrased in the negative (it's a vote to ban same-sex marriage, in other words). So, when PPP says that 52 percent are opposed to this measure and only 45 percent support it, that's a good thing! In addition, the state has a Republican-referred voter ID measure on the ballot, and that's failing too, 51-46 according to PPP's weekend poll. Minnesota may also be poised to have a legislature next year that stops sending out such crappy legislation ... Republicans have only narrow edges in both chambers (37-30 in the Senate and 72-62 in the House, after flipping both in 2010), and with a lot of shaky-looking incumbents, prognosticators view both chambers as Tossups.

MONTANA: Much of the highest-profile state-level opposition to the Citizens United decision has come out of Montana (especially from its Supreme Court), and that continues with an initiative that would prohibit corporate contributions and expenditures in both state and national-level elections. (A September PPP poll found the measure passing by a wide margin.) There's also one of the nation's few abortion-related ballot measures this year, one that would require parental notification. The state's House is likely to stay Republican; the state's Senate is too, really, but with only a 28-22 GOP margin it's still within reach and worth watching this year.

NEVADA: One of the key legislative chambers this year is Nevada's state Senate, where the Democrats are in control by a 12-11 margin and control comes down to a handful of closely fought seats in Las Vegas and Reno. This chamber is universally regarded as a Tossup, though the Democrats are likely to retain their edge in the Assembly (currently at 26-16), which would prevent a Republican trifecta regardless of how the Senate turns out.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: To retake the New Hampshire state House, the Democrats only have to reverse a 290-104 deficit. (Yes, there are 400 members in the chamber, a ratio of about 1 Rep. per 3,000 residents.) That may sound impossible, but the New Hampshire House is remarkably volatile, subject to huge amounts of churn given its massive size (bear in mind that the Democrats held it before 2010). Pundits rate the chances of it flipping as unlikely, but given New Hampshire's high "elasticity" I think this is one sleeper chamber to watch.

NEW MEXICO: New Mexico has a fairly tight margin in its Dem-controlled state House, with only a 36-33 edge. Prognosticators can't seem to agree on what exactly that means, though, with predictions ranging from "Lean Democratic" to "Lean GOP;" given the state's Dem leanings and it being a presidential year, I'd expect it to stay blue. The state Senate (with a 26-15 Dem margin) seems pretty locked in, as well.

NEW YORK: Somewhat unbelievably, the dark-blue state of New York has almost always had a Republican-controlled state Senate, thanks to a gerrymandered power sharing agreement that carves out a GOP-friendly map (in exchange for an impenetrably Democratic state Assembly map). That agreement continued in 2012, thanks to some complicity from Dem Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The GOP's narrow edge is currently 32-30; given that it's a presidential year and that many of those GOPers are in seats that are blue at the presidential level, you might expect it to flip back to Democratic control (as it was from 2008 to 2010). But a race-by-race polling analysis, and a GOP gambit to expand the Senate by adding a 63rd district, suggest that the narrow GOP edge is likelier than not to survive yet again.

NORTH CAROLINA: The Republican leads in the legislature (where they flipped both chambers in 2010) aren't insurmountable, at 31-19 in the Senate and 67-52 in the House), but with the redistricting pen in their hands, it looks like they've locked in some of those gains. Generic legislative ballot polling has shown a tie or small Democratic edges, but with a new GOP-friendly map, that means Dem gains are likely to fall short of majorities.

OHIO: Ohio has one of the most critically important ballot measures in the country, in the form of a citizen's initiative to take redistricting out of the hands of the (currently Republican-controlled) legislature and put it in the hands of an independent commission, a la California and Washington. This is important because it would force a mid-decade undoing of the GOP's gerrymandered House map, which could mean a couple additional Democratic seats in the U.S. House out of Ohio. Unfortunately—whether it's because of an arcane topic or ominous-sounding ballot phrasing ("remove authority of elected representatives and grant new authority to appointed officials")—the measure hasn't gotten much traction, and polling has found the measure failing (though with high undecideds). Ohio's state House, which the GOP picked up in 2010, is at least worth watching, though their 59-40 edge gives them a big enough cushion to survive some Democratic gains. (The state Senate is safely Republican.)

OREGON: The state of Oregon likes its initiative system, and likes its pot—so it's kind of odd that Oregon seems unlikely to be one of the first states to fully legalize and regulate marijuana use via citizen vote. Polling has seen the measure trailing on a regular basis; the best explanation is that, unlike the efforts in Colorado and Washington, the efforts in Oregon are hampered by a complete lack of funding and organization. (Insert obvious stoner joke here.) On the plus side, polling suggests that Oregon is likely to increase its K-12 funding by redirecting corporate income tax refunds.

Oregon also has one of the nation's most closely divided legislatures, with a 16-14 Democratic edge in the state Senate and a 30-30 tie (with Democratic and GOP co-speakers) in the House. The good news is that Democrats seem likely to not only preserve their Senate edge but also to move the House in their direction by a few seats, which would restore the Democratic trifecta in the state.

PENNSYLVANIA: The Democrats are likely to gain seats in both chambers of the state legislature but come up short in terms of gaining majorities. In the state Senate, they seem to have two currently GOP-held seats nailed down, which would move the chamber from a 30-20 GOP edge to a 28-22 margin; a few more seats are in play, though, so it's definitely worth watching what happens with this chamber that's been in GOP hands for ages. The state House, given its huge 203-member size, is subject to a lot of churn depending on which way the wind is blowing, but the GOP's 112-93 edge (after picking the House up in 2010) seems big enough to help them survive any Democratic gains.

SOUTH CAROLINA: The GOP's big majorities in the state legislature aren't in question, but there is one interesting ballot measure: a legislature-referred question as to whether the state should switch from separately electing a lieutenant governor to having the LG picked by the governor as part of a ticket. This seems like an attempt to add a bit of quality control, in a state where the last few LGs were embarrassments.

TEXAS: Remember when we were considering the possibility of flipping the Texas state House back in 2008? Well, it's currently 102-48 in the GOP's favor. Latino growth and inevitable snap-back from 2010 will probably lead to some Dem gains, but as with everything else about Texas, it's a long-term project for the Democrats.

WASHINGTON: Washington manages to hit the hot-button cultural issue two-fer: both same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization are on the ballot. Same-sex marriage was instituted by the legislature earlier in the year, but social conservative forces got enough signatures for a people's veto referendum; however, a similar people's veto of domestic partnerships failed in 2009 and now three years later it looks like full-on marriage will survive as well. In addition, there's an initiative for legalizing and regulating marijuana use. Recent polling has shown both measures passing by wide margins, often in the range of 20-point margins. Unfortunately, the polls also indicate that a measure to allow charter schools in the state—an idea that's been warded off multiple times in the past by state voters—seems likely to pass as well.

Washington's state House looks secure for the Democrats at 56-42, but prognosticators are bullish on the GOP making gains in the state Senate (currently held by the Democrats at 27-22), with some even calling it a "Tossup." That makes little sense, though, because while they have two plausible pickups, there's no particularly plausible third pickup to get them over the top, and they have some tough defenses as well. (If you go by the results of the state's Top 2 primary, which has a pretty strong predictive value for the general election, the GOP is on track to net only a one-seat gain.)

WEST VIRGINIA: West Virginia is similar to Arkansas ideologically and demographically, another southern state that's clung to its Democratic roots even while moving into the red column at the presidential level. Unlike Arkansas, though, West Virginia Democrats look like they'll have an easy time holding onto their legislative majorities (65-35 in the House and 28-6 in the Senate); prognosticators see these chambers as either "Safe" or "Likely Democratic," and there's no outside money trying to tip the balance.

WISCONSIN: Even though the Wisconsin Democrats managed to take over the state Senate via recall elections earlier this year (and now hold a 17-16 edge), that always seemed like something of a pyrrhic victory because they'd be facing a new set of elections in November, under the redistricting maps that the legislature forced through when both chambers were under Republican control. Control will come down to a few close races, but redistricting changes in the GOP's favor have handicappers seeing the chamber as a "Lean Republican"—which would promptly restore the Republican trifecta there. The Republicans have a bigger built-in edge in the Assembly (up 59-39), so even with Democratic gains that's also likely to stay in their hands.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 11:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Fun fact about the MD redistricting map (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lordpet8, WisJohn, KingofSpades, Odysseus

    Even if the map is thrown out, there is nothing to stop the legislature from simply passing the same map again. It would look bad politically, but its possible. And the map isn't nearly a onerous as opponents are making it out to be.

    And the districts in the current map that is being voted on will stand until a new map is drawn.

    •  or they could even (6+ / 0-)

      just draw a worse map for the GOP and attempt an 8-0 D map

      "If you invested $100k for 40 years of Republican administrations you had $126k at the end, if you invested $100k for 40 years of Democratic administrations you had $3.9M at the end" -Forbes Magazine

      by lordpet8 on Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 11:26:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The weird thing is there are even progressive (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lordpet8, WisJohn, KingofSpades, George3

        organizations campaigning against the map. When a guy from one of them was trying to persuade me while i waited in line to early vote, I felt like saying "who's side are you on here?".

        •  The way it turned out (4+ / 0-)

          the map is a complete mess, based on trying to please six Democratic incumbents who all want to cherry pick favorable towns (not just in terms of Dem/GOP, but specifically favorable to them), while also flipping a GOP seat.  As a result, the new MD-03 looks even worse than it did before, if that's possible.  If the incumbents were just amenable to a little more trading, the map could be cleaned up remarkably.  We could even weaken the 1st district (Andy Harris), not to the point of safe Dem, but at least give him something to worry about every 2 years.

          Instead they tried to please everyone, even Harris himself who gets a little tendril from the bulk of his district down to his home in the Baltimore suburbs.

        •  My wife & I are progressives, but there are limits (0+ / 0-)

          The Maryland districts are currently far away the least compact (i.e., most gerrymandered) in the country. On top of that, they totally screwed progressive (and DKos favorite) Donna Edwards by taking away from her much of the constituency in the inner suburbs of Montgomery County that has supported her very strongly.

          •  Maryland has always been gerrymandered. (0+ / 0-)

            I live in eastern Howard County and my district is constantly getting changed.  Years ago we were put in Roscoe Bartlett's district which is way west of here.  It made no sense.  Then we were moved to Cummings' district and now we are in with Baltimore Co. where Dutch Ruppersberger is our rep.  It's hard to keep track!

            “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

            by musiclady on Tue Nov 06, 2012 at 01:11:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  New Hampshire is scary. Listen to this (8+ / 0-)

    segment from This American Life that aired over the weekend.  They tell the story of what happened when the Tea Party took over the legislature.  As hard core a group of mouth breathers as you'd ever want to meet.  Not surprisingly, the hard cores despise the GOP moderates  more than they hate the Dems.

  •  On the NH state legislature, (7+ / 0-)

    another question is, if Maggie Hassan wins the gubernatorial as she seems favored to do, do Dems at least pick up enough seats that her vetoes stick? Even if taking the majority is a long shot (though I agree not out of the question), just that extra piece of leverage would be nice.

    •  I've figured (4+ / 0-)

      the odds of NH Republicans maintaining 2/3 in both chambers is highly unlikely the way this year is going.  The House in particular is so massive that it defies  gerrymandering and is subject to massive swings.  Democratic gains are assured (we have won every single special election in the past two years, of which there have been several in such a large chamber), and though the majority may not happen, I just can't imagine Republicans holding those kinds of margins again.

  •  Another important battleground (11+ / 0-)

    that seems to have gone under the radar is Georgia. Republicans want to amend the state constitution to consolidate their power and advance their social agenda, but they need a 2/3 majority to do that. Unlike in most Southern states, time is not on their side; Georgia has even more hostile demographic trends for them than Texas, particularly in Gwinnett and Cobb Counties, and they've already taken out most of the rural white Democrats. I might put up a diary about this one, but it'll be interesting to see what happens. This may well be the high water mark for the Georgia GOP for decades to come.

    Male, 22, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02, remorseless supporter of Walker's recall. Pocan for Congress and Baldwin for Senate!

    by fearlessfred14 on Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 11:26:43 AM PST

  •  California (6+ / 0-)

    Well I did my part voted early last week. I'm in the uber competitive State Senate district 31. I'm hopeful Richard Roth can pull this.

    I'm also feeling decently good about Mark Takano (CA-41) and Jose Medina (AD 61) of winning.

    "If you invested $100k for 40 years of Republican administrations you had $126k at the end, if you invested $100k for 40 years of Democratic administrations you had $3.9M at the end" -Forbes Magazine

    by lordpet8 on Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 11:32:57 AM PST

  •  Also about WI-St. Sen (6+ / 0-)

    Look closely at SDs 12, 18, and 30, all Dem-held. SD12 is open, and the Republican is favored. SD18 and SD30 have incumbents, but are somewhat marginal (particularly SD18, which is light red). I'd rate them Tossup/Tilt D and Lean D respectively, while SD12 is Lean R. Note that Republicans want a 18-15 majority so that Dale Schultz can't hold their bills hostage or kill them outright (he's one of the two centrist Senators, the other being Democrat Tim Cullen).

    Male, 22, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02, remorseless supporter of Walker's recall. Pocan for Congress and Baldwin for Senate!

    by fearlessfred14 on Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 11:36:12 AM PST

    •  Well Schultz represents (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the historical center of Progressive Republicanism. Needless to say in the last 20 years his region of rural southwest Wisconsin has swung hard to the Democrats.

      "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

      by ArkDem14 on Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 11:57:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  legalities of I-166 in Montana (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    George3, ColoTim

    I assume this is going to become a legal war. Anybody have an insight in to what will happen with it?
    I'm taking I-166 as a direct attack on body of law that came out of Southern Pacific v. Santa Clara County.

    Terry Phillips for Congress in 23rd District of California.

    by hankmeister on Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 11:36:43 AM PST

  •  West Virginia Legislative write-up (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Sounds pretty expensive and intense, at least Republicans are making a push for the the lower House.

    "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

    by ArkDem14 on Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 11:55:10 AM PST

  •  WI Repubs need two-seat majority to pass RTWFL (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike, ColoTim the WI State Senate, provided that Dale Schultz (a Republican who acts like an Independent who is not up for re-election this cycle) votes against a RTWFL bill, as he voted against Act 10 last year. I'm predicting that WI-SD-12 is the only seat up for election this cycle (Open seat being vacated by Moderate Democrat Jim Holperin) that will flip from D to R (WI-SD-18, WI-SD-30, and WI-SD-32 all have an outside chance of flipping, with WI-SD-18 being the most likely of those to flip, even then, it's at best a 50/50 chance), and no seats will flip from R to D (WI-SD-14 is the only R-held seat with an outside chance of flipping).

    Committed to making sure that Mark Kirk and Ron Johnson are shown the door in 2016!

    by DownstateDemocrat on Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 12:08:26 PM PST

  •  Pennsylvania Ballot measure (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The only ballot measure is:

    Question 1 Home Rule Charter Questions
        (1) Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to allow for the establishment of an independent rate-making body for fixing and regulating water and sewer rates and charges and to prescribe open and transparent processes and procedures for fixing and regulating said rates and charges?

        (2) Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to authorize the creation by ordinance of requirements for additional information to be submitted with the annual operating budget, annual capital budget, and capital program, including, but not limited to, information about the cost of performing specific functions, the effectiveness of such functions, and the costs versus benefits of proposed expenditures, and to require the Finance Director to provide such information?

        (3 ) Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter - which allows for a preference in the civil service regulations for the children of Philadelphia firefighters or police officers who were killed or who died in the line of duty - be amended to further allow for a preference for the grandchildren of such firefighters or police officers?

        (4) Should the City of Philadelphia borrow ONE HUNDRED TWENTY THREE MILLION SIX HUNDRED SEVENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS ($123,670,000) to be spent for and toward capital purposes as follows: Transit; Streets and Sanitation; Municipal Buildings; Parks, Recreation and Museums; and Economic and Community Development?

    I don't live in Philly so not real intune with Philly politics, any reason to vote against this?
  •  There's a >$4 mill FL St Senate race (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gay In Maine

    I actually live in what appears to be the most expensive state senate race in the nation.  Total candidate + party spending on the FL-08 State Senate race is on track to surpass $4 million.  This is the newly redrawn district that encompasses most of Volusia County with a composition split fairly evenly between parties.  Pretty incredible this much is being spent on a state legislature race.  But it's one of the few really competitive districts in Florida.  Hopefully Democrat Frank Bruno pulls it out.

    •  Are You Kidding (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dkosdan, wu ming

      State Senate Districts in California are larger than Congressional Districts.  I've got to guess there is more spending there.  In Colorado where districts are about 175,000 people, they're spending over $2M is several.  We even have TV commercials here for one of the 20 seats here in the metro Denver area.  Simply unbelieveable.

      •  The SD8 recall had about $8 million in spending (0+ / 0-)

        for a 150k person seat. Both candidates and outside groups were running broadcast ads in the moderately expensive Milwaukee market in heavy rotation.

        Male, 22, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02, remorseless supporter of Walker's recall. Pocan for Congress and Baldwin for Senate!

        by fearlessfred14 on Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 12:44:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  thanks for the link to my diary (0+ / 0-)

    ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

    by James Allen on Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 12:17:25 PM PST

  •  OR is passing a Corporate tax measure (0+ / 0-)

    Measure 85- eliminates the Corporate "kicker" a tax refund to corporations. Uses the money for school support.

  •  MI Collective Bargaining Measure (4+ / 0-)

    Michigan's proposal 2 is giving me a sad.  In any other year, this thing would have passed with flying colors.  What the backers didn't anticipate was Matty Moroun getting conservative measures on the ballot, which made a lot of those in power panic, because it muddled things.  So, there has been a campaign for months now to "vote no" on everything, which is basically pulling EVERYTHING down.  It's completely possible that everything gets a "no" vote, which would have the effect of only repealing the EM, which is good, but I'd much rather the collective bargaining measure pass or the GOP will be coming at us with a knife, next year looking for revenge.

    What a damned shame, and because of a cartoonishly evil billionaire.

  •  Florida Supreme Court retention is still at risk (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    George3, Odysseus

    Right now the Florida Supreme Court is essentially 5 justices on the left wing of the court and 2 conservatives.  None hit mandatory retirement until after Rick Scott's first (and hopefully only) term ends.  Unfortunately three on the left side of the court are up for a retention vote this year and need 60% to remain in their position.  In the past these retention votes have always been a formality with >80% usually voting to retain.  But this year the GOP has campaigned hard to get them removed from the court.  If they succeed a 5-2 left wing majority could turn into a 5-2 conservative majority.  The stakes cannot be overestimated as the Florida Supreme Court is the left's last bastion of power in Florida.  

    Thankfully FL Dems are fighting hard to to inform voters to vote yes.  I really think this will be very close.  Republicans account for 35-40% of the voter base, so if they keep their voters unified in voting no it could get ugly.

    •  60% retention is so whacked (0+ / 0-)

      I'd rather have elected judges than not, but they should be able to be retained with a majority vote, and should face an opposing candidate, not a reappointment by the Governor.

      Male, 22, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02, remorseless supporter of Walker's recall. Pocan for Congress and Baldwin for Senate!

      by fearlessfred14 on Tue Nov 06, 2012 at 05:41:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  MN amendments (4+ / 0-)

    The key thing to watch with constitutional amendments in Minnesota is that the amendment needs a majority of all the votes in the election to pass - in short, not marking anything on a constitutional amendment is the same as a vote against the amendment.

  •  On NC: Supreme Court race (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Between incumbent Paul Newby and challenger Sam Ervin IV. determines who holds the majority/the lean of the Supreme Court.

    There's litigation regarding the new redistricting plan going to the Supreme Court.

    The Republican State Leadership Committee has spent over $1 million USD on that race supporting Newby.

    It's a big deal and could shape legislative majorities for a while.

  •  Wyoming (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, White Buffalo, ColoTim

    Here in the Cowboy/Equality State, we're voting on whether to enshrine the right to hunt, fish, and trap wildlife and the right to pay for medical services into the constitution.  Democrats hope to gain on their 10/60 position in the state house and 4/30 position in the senate.

  •  Illinois constitutional amendment (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lanman04, KateinIL

    vote NO

    See this for more info:

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Tue Nov 06, 2012 at 07:27:48 AM PST

  •  how's swing ST voting going? anyone hear anything? (0+ / 0-)

    80 % of Success is Just Showing Up ! ! !
    So just go vote ! ! !

    by Churchill on Tue Nov 06, 2012 at 11:17:35 AM PST

  •  Mid-decade redistributing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Texas did it , the Supremes okayed it, so any year that a state lege shifts can be a redistributing year.

    They set the precedent, now everyone can use it.

    No need to wait for 2020!

    We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

    by Urban Owl on Tue Nov 06, 2012 at 11:24:14 AM PST

  •  Arkansas (0+ / 0-)

    The Casino measures will not be counted (sorta shady, putting existing gambling out of business). The other three will be.  Need to update the Arkansas summary.

  •  NC Legislative write-ups (0+ / 0-)

    Democrats need a net gain of 6 Senate seats (if Coleman wins the Lt Gov race) or 7 (if Coleman loses) to regain control.

    Senate analysis with map:

    There are 50 seats in the state Senate, but the battle between Republicans and Democrats for control of the chamber will come down to fewer than a dozen races this fall.

    In the Senate campaigns, 18 of the 50 races are already decided, with 11 Republicans and 7 Democrats facing no opposition in the November general election.

    Democrats need a net gain of 9 seats to regain House control.

    House analysis with map:

    Civitas version of PVI analysis for House and Senate districts:

    NC-4 (soon to be NC-6) Obama/Biden 2012

    by bear83 on Tue Nov 06, 2012 at 11:33:49 AM PST

  •  high hopes for Minnesota (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jake Nelson

    One comment about the anti-gay marriage and voter ID initiatives: a non- vote, i.e.: where someone casts a ballot but doesn’t vote on the initiative, counts as a no vote. I’m not sure how great a degree it will be but polls on these initiatives will inherently overstate the likelihood of passage.

    Losing both House and Senate in 2010 was a shocking reversal for the DFL. As a result of the wave election, a lot of marginal GOP candidates won that are at risk this cycle. While it’s a Congressional, and not state, race I think MN-08 may be a good harbinger. In 2010 the 14-term Democratic incumbent, Jim Oberstar, was defeated by a GOP newcomer, Chip Cravaack. This cycle, Cravaack has consistently trailed in polls against his DFL opponent.

    The Minnesota electorate may be feeling a bit of buyer’s remorse with the GOP legislature. Their image is not great and made worse by a sex scandal last year involving their Senate majority leader. The wild card is the redistricting that followed 2010. We will see how much of an advantage the GOP was able to bake in thanks to their control of the process.  

    Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

    by Joe Bob on Tue Nov 06, 2012 at 11:37:02 AM PST

  •  MIssouri (0+ / 0-)

    Has several measures and ammendments:

    Proposition A would return some measure of "home rule" to the police department in St. Louis, which has been missing since the Civil War. The city has long fought for this, but the wording of the proposition is such that the many of the groups that have supported giving this authority back to St. Louis have come out against it.

    I voted in favor of A, under the feeling that the current nutcase Missouri legislature is unlikely to offer a better deal.

    Proposition B would crank up Missouri's lowest in the nation cigarette tax, with a promise that all funds go to education.

    I voted for B, but don't hold our great hopes as the campaigning against it has been ludicously overwhelming.

    Proposition E would prevent the governor from setting up an insurance exchange. Typical anti-Obamacare boilerplate.

    I voted against E. No sense about how likely it is to pass.

    Constitutional Amendment 3 would change the way judges are selected in Missouri. The current system, the "Missouri Model," is well-known for selecting effective judges and for limiting the partisanship of selections. Naturally, that's not flying these days with groups that want to have direct, political contorl of judges.

    I voted against Amendment 3, and would do so twice if I could.

  •  WA Gubernatorial Race (0+ / 0-)

    is looking extremely close between Jay Inslee (D) and Rob McKenna, with the latter drawing a lot of crossover interest from moderate Democrats.  This might be headed for a recount, ala the 2004 election in which Christine Gregoire (D) defeated Dino Rossi (R) by 32 votes.

  •  Amendments 1 & 4 in Alabama are of more import ... (0+ / 0-)

    than the Obamacare amendment mentioned, which is largely conservative eye candy.

    Amendment 1 would reauthorize funding for the highly successful Forever Wild conservation program for another 20 years.  Both the Sierra Club and the NRA are backing this one, but the powerful AL Farmer's Association opposes it -- they want the money instead.  Please vote YES on Amendment 1.

    Amendment 4 is something of a wolf in sheep's clothing.  It is part of a piecemeal attempt to revise the horrible 1901 Alabama Constitution.  This one removes segregationist language from the Education article of the constitution.  In an unfortunate (but maybe not unintended, it was written by the GOP, after all) side-effect, it also appears to turn back the clock to a 1954 version of the constitution which eliminated the right to a public education in Alabama.  It's a case of keep segregationist language, which is embarrassing but no longer doing any actual harm, or possibly give state government an opportunity to simply close down public education in the state.  Very respected progressive figures in the state are advising a NO vote on Amendment 4.

    And don't forget Amendment 6 which purports to protect the secret ballot, but its real purpose is to make it even harder for workers to organize in Alabama.  It deserves a NO vote.

    There are a total of 11 amendments on the Alabama ballot.  Here is how I voted on them.  Here is how Judge Mark Kennedy, Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party voted on them.

  •  Correction re: Maine (0+ / 0-)

    The referendum question in Maine is not about repealing a ban. In 2009, the state legislature voted to allow same-sex marriage. Opponents launched a successful citizen's veto to overturn that bill. This year, supports launched a citizen's referendum to ALLOW same-sex marriage. This is affirmative legislation- not a repeal of a ban. And supporters have been working very hard for the past 3 years, having  conversations with voters, doing the education piece to inoculate voters against the inevitable lies from the NOM folks.

    It looks good so far today. Wish us well- we hope this will be the first time same-sex marriage is approved at the ballot box!

  •  Idaho: Vote No (0+ / 0-)

    Why you should vote NO:

    Proposition 1

    Teachers are some of the lowest paid professionals in the state. Thanks to budget cuts, many are making less today than they did three years ago. Some have to take a second job just to pay their bills. Yet many teachers still dip into their own pockets and spend hundreds of dollars every year just to provide the basics in their overcrowded classrooms — like pens and paper– because Idaho’s schools have been shortchanged by Luna and the legislature.

    Proposition 1 takes away teachers’ freedom to speak up on behalf of Idaho’s students. It makes it illegal for our teachers to discuss classroom funding issues with their own school administrators and it bans them from talking about overcrowding in their classrooms or school safety issues during contract negotiations.


    Proposition 2

    You don’t choose a career in teaching to become rich — especially in Idaho. You do it because you care. Teachers are more than just educators. They’re advocates and mentors for our children. They know what our kids need to succeed. Proposition 2 forces teachers to teach to the test instead of allowing them to inspire more creative thinking in our children.

    Each child is unique. It takes a dedicated, caring and highly-trained teacher to reach them. We don’t want to treat students like widgets on an assembly line. We want to make sure our kids are good critical thinkers, not just good test takers.


    Proposition 3

    Prop 3 imposes a largely unfunded mandate that takes away local control and dictates how and what we teach our kids. Forcing local schools to buy expensive technology and to pay for replacement parts will be much more costly than the backers of the laws claim. Kids are kids. Hardware will break. Taxpayers will be left to foot the bill.

    Using computers to teach students is good, and already occurs in every school in Idaho. But we shouldn’t have to lay off teachers to buy laptops. We need teachers in the classroom to help our kids learn how to make the most of technology. One of the major providers of online courses in Idaho sent students’ English essays to be reviewed in India. The last thing we should be doing is outsourcing teaching jobs and our students’ education overseas.

    Read more:

  •  Clean sweep in Hawaii (0+ / 0-)

    I just voted against Sam Slom, the last remaining Republican in the Hawaii Senate. He's the incumbent in the 8th district but is running for re-election in the 9th where he faces political newcomer Kurt Lajala, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Hopefully Slom will be spared the embarrassment of caucusing with himself next year!

  •  I wrote this the other day... (0+ / 0-)

    We've lost too many (state governments) and we see what that's gotten us - restrictive legislation, redistricting and shoddy election results.

    It's time we concentrate on state houses and legislations. We seem to lose our interest when it comes to more local elections. That has to change.

    Maybe get O's team to start working on this now that their guy's not going to run again..

    It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

    by auapplemac on Tue Nov 06, 2012 at 01:47:02 PM PST

  •  My CA state Sen dist. has 2 Dems against each (0+ / 0-)

    other, and both are progressive Dems.  I practically had to flip a coin to determine who to vote for.  
      All thanks to the sh**ty initiative passed last year that pits the top two vote getters from the primary (regardless of party), instead (traditional) Dem vs GOP vs whatever other party.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Tue Nov 06, 2012 at 02:49:33 PM PST

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