Fate of ballot initiatives startles right

Conservatives heap scorn on GOP

The Associated PressNovember 9, 2006 

  • A look at some ballot measures across the country.

    SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BANS

    Approved: Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin

    Rejected: Arizona

    EMINENT DOMAIN LIMITS

    (Restricting government power to take private property for a private use)

    Approved: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Nevada, Oregon, Sough Carolina

    Rejected: California, Idaho

    MINIMUM WAGE RAISE

    Approved: Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio

    TOBACCO TAX INCREASE

    Approved: Arizona, South Dakota

    Rejected: California, Missouri

    ALSO OF NOTE

    Arizona approved a measure to make English the state's official language and rejected one to award $1 million to a random voter each general election.

    California rejected a measure to require parental notification before a minor could have an abortion.

    Colorado rejected a measure to legalize possession of as much as 1 ounce of marijuana.

    Michigan approved a measure to scrap affirmative action programs in university admissions and government hiring.

    Missouri approved a measure to allow stem cell research, including on embryos.

    Nevada rejected a measure to legalize possession of as much as 1 ounce of marijuana.

    Oregon rejected a measure to require parental notification before a minor could have an abortion.

    South Dakota rejected measures to ban all abortions except to save a pregnant woman's life, and to strip judges of immunity.

  • GOVERNORS

    Jubilant Democrats saw their victories in Tuesday's gubernatorial elections as a pathway to the presidency in 2008.

    The Democrats reversed GOP dominance that reached back to 1994, seizing a 28-22 edge in governor's mansions, and stretching into several states that had been in Republican hands for eight years or longer, many of them rich with swing voters -- Ohio, Colorado and Arkansas among them. Still, Republicans kept several of the nation's largest states, including California, Texas and Florida.

    LEGISLATURES

    Riding voter discontent with national Republican leadership, state-level Democrats cemented control of both legislative chambers in 23 states and improved their position in others. With an estimated net gain of nearly 300 seats, the vote resulted in the most one-sided gains for either party since the Republican rout of 1994. Democrats' pickup of legislative seats will break what had been a very close divide, and give the party's lawmakers more power to shape state policy and to play a key role in drawing congressional districts.

From the country's heartland, voters sent messages that altered the culture wars in the U.S. and dismayed the religious right -- defending abortion rights in South Dakota, endorsing stem cell research in Missouri and, in a national first, rejecting a same-sex marriage ban in Arizona.

Conservative leaders were jolted by the setbacks and looked for an explanation Wednesday. Activists for gay rights and abortion rights celebrated.

The verdict on abortion rights was particularly clear. Oregon and California voters defeated measures that would have required parents to be notified before a girl under 18 could get an abortion, and South Dakotans -- by 56 percent to 44 percent -- rejected a new state law that would have banned all abortions except to save a pregnant woman's life.

"This was really a rebellion in the heart of red-state, pro-life America, the heart of the northern Bible Belt," said Sarah Stoesz, head of the Planned Parenthood chapter that oversees South Dakota. "It sends a very strong message to the rest of the country."

South Dakota legislators had passed the law expecting it to trigger a court challenge and lead to a possible Supreme Court reversal of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Abortion-rights leaders said Wednesday that such strategies should be abandoned.

Anti-abortion leaders said the GOP shared some of the blame for the defeat. The Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, said President Bush and other top Republicans failed to campaign strongly for the South Dakota abortion ban and against the Missouri stem cell measure.

"While South Dakotans fought valiantly to defend their babies, we once again witnessed an almost total lack of support from the national leadership," Euteneuer said.

Janice Shaw Crouse, a conservative analyst with Concerned Women for America, suggested that Republicans -- some of them entangled in corruption and sex scandals -- had lost some of the selling power of the "family values" themes they had pushed in recent elections.

"Families had such high hopes when conservatives were in power; they ended up discouraged, disappointed and disillusioned," she said.

Liberal groups did have some setbacks. Michigan voters approved a ban on some types of affirmative action programs, Colorado and Arizona passed measures targeting illegal immigrants, and seven states approved same-sex-marriage bans, joining 20 that had done so in previous elections.

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