Government & Politics

The Wave Kept Going Down the Ballot

Other Election Day measures that voters weighed in on.

Thomas Gallatin · Nov. 9, 2016

In light of Donald Trump’s historic election victory, it may be easy to overlook just how deep and wide the victory was, not just for Trump, but for the GOP. The Trump victory is looking like the crest of another Republican wave. The GOP maintained majorities in both the House and Senate, giving Republicans the presidency and both houses of Congress for the first time since 1928. But Republicans also picked up three more governorships, increasing their number by three to 33 — and they’ll perhaps add yet another soon. And they won control of 66 out of 98 state legislatures, including both chambers in 32 states.

There were also significant initiatives on the ballot in several states.

Four more states — California, Maine, Nevada and Massachusetts — voted in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana use, with voters in Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota passing a medical marijuana measure. It now seems likely that the legalization of marijuana nationwide is not far off.

Several states had minimum wage increases on the ballot. Voters in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington chose to raise the minimum wage, while a measure to lower the minimum wage to those workers under the age of 18 was rejected in South Dakota. So long as the economy languishes at near stagnation levels, the minimum wage issue won’t be going away anytime soon.

In Colorado, voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have implemented a single-payer health care model. If this had passed, Colorado residents would have seen a 10% tax on their payroll and veered to the left of even Vermont.

The death penalty removal measure on the ballot in California appears to have been rejected by voters, while Nebraska voted to reinstate the death penalty.

Four states had various gun control related measures on their ballots. California voters appear to have approved a measure to require background checks on the sale of ammunition. Maine voters rejected a measure to increase background checks for gun sales. In Nevada, the result was not yet fully known on whether an initiative requiring private buyers and sellers to conduct background checks had passed. And in Washington, voters passed an initiative allowing courts to temporarily seize guns from individuals.

Alabama voters passed a measure that added a right-to-work guarantee to its state constitution, while Virginia voters rejected a similar measure. South Dakota voters rejected Measure 23, which would have effectively eliminated the state’s right-to-work law, in place since 1947.

Results have yet to fully come in on Colorado voters’ choice regarding Proposition 106, legalizing physician-assisted suicide.

In California, voters by a large margin approved Proposition 58, which now allows for public schools to teach in Spanish. And Massachusetts voters rejected school choice in voting against an initiative that would have added 12 new charter schools each year.

All in all, 2016 produced an awful lot more hope and change than many observers were counting on. Let’s see what Republicans at the local, state and national levels can now do with their winnings.

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