Wedge Issues on the Ballot: Can State Initiatives on Gay Marriage, Minimum Wage Affect Candidate Races?

Source Organization: Pew Research Center

Author: Paul Taylor


07/26/2006 - For more than a century, ballot initiative campaigns have been a way to make public policy at the state level, but in recent years some have also been launched with a secondary motive in mind: to influence the candidate races that share the same ballot.

The most famous example came in 2004, when legend has it President Bush owed his reelection at least in part to ballot initiatives to ban same sex marriage in 11 states that helped draw social conservatives to the polls.

National Democratic leaders remain so taken with the purported success of that GOP electoral gambit that they recently announced their own copy-cat strategy for 2006. They are waging an effort to place initiatives on their favorite wedge issue  increasing the minimum wage on ballots in a handful of states this fall. Meantime, Republicans, not to be outmaneuvered at their own game, are gearing up for another round of same sex marriage ban ballot initiatives this fall.

There's just one problem with both gambits: to the extent that they are based on the notion that there was a widespread spill-over from the same sex marriage ban ballot initiatives onto the presidential race in 2004, they're anchored more in myth than reality.

Read the full analysis Wedge Issues on the Ballot: Can State Initiatives on Gay Marriage, Minimum Wage Affect Candidate Races? on the Pew Research Center Web site.

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