Voting history predicted a Republican surge in the sixth year of an incumbent president whose popularity had plummeted. The 2014 election results should have been no surprise. Historically, the opposition party gained an average of 5.5 U.S. Senate seats in the off-presidential year. This year, Republicans gained at least seven. Any expectations by Democrats of hanging on to a majority in the Senate were specious.
As expected, the conduct of a poll on candidates and ballot measures threw new vigor into an otherwise waning election campaign. In a few days, we will hear more argument when the election returns deviate from the poll results. While Gallup and Pew have reduced polling to a science, other pollsters in the country still struggle with the sponginess inherent in the process
“Whose idea was this Community Civic Summit?” growled Old Sievert as the town’s 14 electors trooped into the chilly community hall for a special meeting of the Homeland Committee. “We have to keep up on the issues of the day or be left in the dark,” Madeleine Morgan warned. She had been bugging Chairperson Ork Dorken for the meeting since the primary election.
Measure 5 on the November ballot is a proposed amendment to the state constitution dedicating 5 percent of the 6½ percent oil extraction tax to “clean water, lands and outdoor heritage.” Even though conservation groups are sponsoring the proposal, they will have limited influence in the use of the $125 million that is supposed to be available annually, meaning that most of the criticism of the measure we have been hearing is groundless.
Measure 4 on the November ballot is the latest attempt by the Legislature to restrict citizen use of the initiative process by which voters can propose measures for a vote of the people. If passed, it would prohibit the secretary of state from putting on the ballot any citizen proposal that would direct the expenditure of money for a specific purpose. Apparently, legislators question the intelligence of the voters.
According to the major sponsor of Measure 3, North Dakota higher education is “beyond the ability of a group of volunteers.” Proposed by the Legislature, Measure 3 would replace the eight-member Board of Higher Education with three full-time commissioners.
“The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.” Measure 1 promises to be the most difficult of the eight measures on the November ballot in North Dakota because its brief 19-word mandate is fraught with secular and theological unknowns, lending it to a range of conflicting interpretations and speculation about intended as well as unintended consequences.
With the Minnesota Twins’ trade of Josh Willingham to Kansas City Royals, the most recent trade of many, the U.S. Justice Department is going to charge the Twins with human trafficking because they don’t show any evidence of being in baseball. If not due to trafficking, perhaps they’ve been in the cellar so long because they’re in the mushroom business. For Slugger Willingham, the Twins got two batboys and two cases of bubblegum.
With a number of challenging and contentious measures on the November ballot, North Dakota voters may be lured to the polls in a “ho hum” nonpresidential year election. Repeating the nature of the seven measures on the ballot is important because thousands of voters will show up at the polls without a clue about the significant issues they are expected to resolve with wisdom and insight.
In astonishment, the folks at Belshazzar’s party exclaimed: “Look! There’s handwriting on the wall.” They were all chagrined to learn that the handwriting was bad news. Babylon would fall. North Dakota may not be a Babylonian party but the handwriting is certainly on the wall.