Ballot Initiatives Will Appeal To Conservatives in 2011
Many people made the claim that George W. Bush was helped by the numerous ballot initiatives throughout the country in 2004 that defined marriage as one man and woman. On the surface, I won’t argue with that assessment. And if it was indeed true, then Republicans and conservatives can look to be the beneficiary of two ballot initiatives likely headed to the 2011 ballot.
The first, and most well known, initiative would require some form of identification before voting. This has been a strong issue for Republicans throughout the years as voter ID bill generally saw their death in the Democrat controlled House of Representatives. But then last year, a compromise bill cleared the House but was killed in the Senate. Some Republicans objected to the early voting and same-day registration provisions and that was that.
The prevailing wisdom is that this initiative will easily pass once it makes it to the ballot. I don’t disagree with that. What will be interesting is how the Democrats approach this. So far, they have basically said two things: 1) this is a wedge issue and not important and 2) we had a good compromise last year that Republicans killed. For their own electoral sake in 2011, the Democrats can not (at least too vocally) oppose this bill. Meaning, that can’t be a part of their platform- that would make for electoral ruin. Republicans, obviously, will be unified in their support of it as they led the drive.
The second initiative is a very interesting one. We have talked about it, but in general it did not receive much publicity (at least until the end of the drive). I am talking about the proposed personhood amendment which would define life at the moment of fertilization. According to Les Riley, the group delivered over 105,000 signatures to the secretary of state’s office.
I want to add that while what the GOP and volunteers did to get voter ID on the ballot was impressive, it pales in comparison to what Riley and his group did. Personhood Mississippi had no political structure behind it. It was totally grassroots, and to get these signatures is nothing short of amazing. There is a reason only two ballot initiatives have even made it on to the ballot- and that is because it’s a very hard thing to do.
As for the politics of this, it’s a little harder to measure. This received strong bi-partisan backing with both Phil Bryant and Billy McCoy signing the petition. Mississippi is one of the most pro-life states in the country, so you would have to assume this would pass. And you would assume those supporters will more than likely also back Republicans. Riley had previously said he didn’t want the state parties working to collect signatures because this was a non-partisan measure. Will either party endorse it now? You would have to figure the GOP will. The Democrats are in a trickier position. They take no stance on the issue, according to their website, so I wouldn’t imagine they will now. However, I would expect many individual Democrats to lend their support.