DemDaily: Behind The Ballot: Issues That Won

November 9, 2018

Voter on Tuesday sent a resounding message rejecting both President Trump and his policies, and prioritizing their issues for Congress and statehouses.

According to exit polls, 41% of voters said health care was the top issue in their decision, ranking ahead of immigration (23%) and the economy (21%) to gun policy (11%). Further, 69% of voters said the healthcare system needed major changes.

Historically, the prevailing pattern has been that if the economy is good, then the President and his party keep their jobs.

Despite positive economic numbers and job growth on the surface, however, a deeper dive shows that individual wages have not increased and the GOP tax cuts have done little to improve the financial situation of middle class Americans.

More significantly, what Trump and the Republicans failed to realize is that healthcare is an economic issue.

The GOP paid the price for its rebuke and repeal of Obama's Affordable Care Act without a replacement that reassured coverage of pre-existing conditions -- which would otherwise cost individual Americans thousands of dollars.

Healthcare, and specifically Obamacare's optional state-by-state expansion of Medicaid, was also popular among individual state initiatives.

Three traditonally red states, Idaho, Nebraska and Utah, passed ballot measures approving Medicaid expansion, a move that will cover an estimated 325,000 low-income residents.  Additionally, Kansas, Maine, and Wisconsin all elected Democratic governors who are expansion proponents.

Voters in 37 states voted on a total of 155 ballot measures on Election Day

Other issues voters approved in the states ranged from redistricting, criminal justice reform and civil rights, to minimum wage and marijuana.

Civil Rights
Massachusetts passed the nation's first statewide vote on protections for transgender people, prohibiting gender-based discrimination in public places.

Criminal Justice
In Louisiana, voters said juries in felony trials must be unanimous in their verdicts, overturning a Jim Crow-era law that allowed 10 of 12 jurors to decide cases.

Colorado residents voted to remove slavery as a form of punishment from the state Constitution.
Washington voters supported a measure that provides police officers with greater violence de-escalation and mental health crisis training.

Gun Control
Washington State approved one of the toughest gun safety laws in the nation with a measure that increases the age limit to buy an assault rifle from 18 to 21 and imposes a 10-day waiting period for purchases.

Minimum Wage
Minimum wage increases were passed in Arkansas (from $7.85 to $12) and Missouri (from $8.50 to $11) -- providing raises to a combined total of 900,000 workers in the two states.

Michigan voters legalized recreational marijuana, and Utah and Missouri voted to legalize medical marijuana.

Voting Rights
Florida passed Amendment 4, restoring the right to vote to an estimated 1.4 million people with prior felony convictions, except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense.

Michigan and Nevada passed a plan for automatic voter registration, and Maryland passed same-day registration.

Image: New York Times

Alternatively, Arkansas and North Carolina passed more restrictive voter ID laws, requiring individuals to present valid photo ID to cast in-person and absentee ballots.

In Michigan, Missouri, and Colorado, voters passed ballot initiatives to end gerrymandering by setting up independent redistricting commissions or limiting the ability of a single party to unilaterally draw legislative district lines. Ohio passed a similar initiative in June.

Victim's Rights
Voters in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina and Oklahoma approved versions of "Marsy's Law," adding specific rights for victims of crime to their state constitutions. Originally passed in California ten years ago, South Dakota, Illinois and Ohio have enacted similar laws.

In Alabama and West Virginia, voters approved amendments to their state constitutions that eliminate provisions that protect the right to an abortion, and to prevent public funding of abortions. Oregon voters rejected a similar measure.

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Kimberly Scott


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Sources: Vox, CBS, Ballotpedia, CNN, DNC, Fortune, MarketWatch

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