Sally Kohn: Results of ballot initiatives favored progressive outcomes,defied GOP sweep
Three states voted to hike minimum wage even as they elected GOP candidates
Several states voted to legalize possession of small amounts of pot
Kohn: Restrictions on pregnant women failed in 2 states, passed in Tennessee
Watching the returns in key congressional and gubernatorial races on election night, you might be forgiven for thinking the 2014 midterm elections were a slam dunk for Republicans, with voters roundly endorsing not only conservative candidates but also conservative ideas.
But that means you haven’t paid attention to the ballot measures. In votes on everything from “fetal personhood” amendments to the minimum wage, voters even in the reddest of red states sided with the progressive camp. As Ben Casselman of FiveThirtyEight succinctly summed it up in an Election Night tweet: “So voters want a higher minimum wage, legal pot, abortion access and GOP representation. Ok then.”
Here’s a look at the befuddling outcomes in ballot measure contests, contrasted with the other results on Election Night, and what they might portend for the future.
Voters in three states – Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota – voted to approve increases in their state minimum wage rates. In Nebraska, for instance, voters decided to raise the state minimum wage from the current federal minimum of just $7.25 an hour to $8.00 in 2015 and $9.00 in 2016.
In South Dakota, voters approved a measure to raise the federal minimum wage up to $8.50 next year, and after that have their minimum wage increase with inflation. Voters in Alaska are also expected to approve a similar measure. And in Illinois, voters backed a nonbinding measure encouraging lawmakers to raise the minimum wage in that state.
This happened even as the same voters chose