Progressives, frustrated at gridlock in Washington and at the state level, are planning a major ballot-initiative push across the country as they bank on a likely favorable electorate in 2016.
Groups supporting marijuana legalization, background checks on firearms and raising the minimum wage told POLITICO to expect a larger slate of ballot propositions in 2016 than during the past several election cycles.
In particular, organizations are confident that after achieving success on progressive ballot initiatives with an older and more conservative bloc of voters in 2014, the younger and more liberal electorate expected to turn out in the upcoming presidential contest will produce some major triumphs.
It’s widely expected that referendums on gun control, marijuana legalization and economic fairness issues, including paid sick leave and equal pay, will outnumber those in 2012, a sign that liberals are embracing a state-based model that allows them to circumvent legislatures and Congress.
Conservatives, though, are taking notice, and vowing to blunt the momentum, potentially with competing ballot propositions.
Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist, said conservatives are “keeping an eye on” progressive successes at the ballot and that they are “concerned” about a broader campaign encroaching upon conservative states.
“There is concern that it could move to more traditionally conservative states, and that’s where they’re going to try to stop it,” he said.