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Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: California, get ready for some crazy ballot action in 2016

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 08:00
Demonstrators march on Market Street during a rally in support of the state's upcoming Proposition 37 ballot measure in San Francisco, California October 6, 2012. The initiative, commonly known as the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, would require mandatory labeling of genetically-modified raw and processed food products and prohibit products containing such to be called natural. While supporters see the measure as part of the consumer's right to know, the controversial measure has also drawn strong criticisms in recent times for being poorly written, increasing costs for both taxpayers and consumers, as well as presenting additional risks of lawsuits against retailers. REUTERS/Stephen Lam (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT) - RTR38V4Q The Golden State may get a lot more ballot measures next cycle

Leading Off:

CA Ballot: Thanks to low ballot access hurdles, tons of proposed referendums and constitutional amendments confront California voters almost every year. 2014 was actually rather light compared to historical trends, but as KQED's John Myers explains, propositions could come back in force next cycle. That's because the number of signatures required to get on the ballot is based on turnout in the most recent gubernatorial race, and thanks to an uncompetitive race this year, turnout was abysmal.

With around 6.5 million votes cast, statutory ballot measures will now only need around 325,000 signatures to qualify (5 percent of the total), compared to over 504,000 under the previous regime, which was keyed to 2010 turnout. Amendments require 8 percent, so that's 520,000, versus 808,000 previously. That's a very big difference, and it could mean that corporate interests as well as grassroots groups alike try to take advantage of the situation and add a whole bunch of propositions to the 2016 and 2018 ballots.

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Elections have consequences

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 07:30
If you’re a polling firm who always shows Rs ahead, an election where lots of Rs win doesn't validate your methods. http://t.co/...
@DrewLinzer David Wasserman: The election of a historically large Republican majority coincided with the lowest turnout in a midterm election since 1942. But the 2014 race for the House played out in two very different sets of states. In the 24 states hosting high-profile, competitive Senate or gubernatorial races, raw votes cast in House races were down an average of 30.5 percent from 2012.2 But in the 26 states that weren’t, raw votes were down a much more severe 43.9 percent.3

Political types call these places “orphan states.” In 2011, Republican operatives began using the term to describe worrisome House races in states where the 2012 presidential race wasn’t competitive. Republicans fretted that without a robust GOP presidential campaign driving out their voters in places like California, Illinois and New York, they were in danger of letting more energized Democrats run up the score in down-ballot races. Their fears were warranted; those three states alone produced Democrats’ entire eight-seat House gain in 2012.

But in 2014, Republicans took advantage. In a midterm election, heavily Democratic groups such as young and low-income voters and Latinos are less likely to turn out to begin with. And in plenty of states, the lack of a competitive statewide race sent turnout plunging to unforeseen lows and led to down-ballot disasters for Democrats.

John Judis: The chief obstacle that any Democratic nominee will face is public resistance to installing a president from the same party in the White House for three terms in a row. If you look at the presidents since World War II, when the same party occupied the White House for two terms in a row, that party’s candidate lost in the next election six out of seven times.  

The one exception was George H.W. Bush's 1988 victory after two terms of Ronald Reagan, but Bush, who was seventeen points behind Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis at the Republican convention, was only able to win because his campaign manager Lee Atwater ran a brilliant campaign against an extraordinarily weak opponent. (Democrats might also insist that Al Gore really won in 2000, but even if he had, he would have done so very narrowly with unemployment at 4.0 percent.)

More politics and policy below the fold.

Open thread for night owls: Excerpts from the Harper's Index

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 23:00

Here are excerpts from the December issue of Harper's Index:

• Average amount U.S. customs officials paid to build each of twenty-one houses for employees in rural Arizona: $680,000

• Average market price of houses in the area: $86,500

• Number of U.S. universities that have received military equipment from the Defense Department since 1998: 117

• That have received mine-resistant vehicles: 6

• Estimated minimum number of U.S. government contractors eligible to access classified information: 930,000

• Percentage of women worldwide who believe that energy conservation
is a “vital issue”: 68

• Of men: 47

• Chance that a witness called to testify before a congressional committee
is female: 1 in 4

• Portion of Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 in 1960 who had never been married: 1/10

• Portion today: 1/2

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2004Clinton Library Opens - What's the Legacy? The William J. Clinton Presidential Center, to be dedicated on Thursday, is a futuristic glass-paneled rectangle cantilevered over the banks of the Arkansas River, evoking Mr. Clinton's metaphoric "Bridge to the 21st Century." It is a reflection of a man who famously crammed just about everything into his speeches and his presidency and has now crammed them or their facsimiles into this shrine he hopes will shape his legacy.

I still don't know if Bill Clinton represents a bump in the ongoing election decline at the presidential level for Dems, or a poorly-imitated but effective strategery for winning votes in a national and not just a regional sense. Or maybe Presidential politics really is about who you like more and who you dislike more. Or maybe a combo of all of the above.

There is no question that Bill Clinton was the most gifted politician of his era, a trait I don't think his spouse necessarily shares, nor does everyone who was associated with him (although there's talent in that bunch). And gifts like Bill's make up for a lot. My family liked his policies and hated his sideshow personal life. But since when have Presidential elections been about policy?

Tweet of the Day 90 inches of snow! CNN says that's possible for Buffalo.
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